VIDEO Can You Predict Your Future? 

June 25, 2017 by Skip Heitzig

If you were going to sit down and write a short description of what you wanted your future to look like, what words would you choose? Let me suggest four that come straight out of Paul’s experience: joy, confidence, hope, and life. After musing over past events that brought him to prison, Paul looks ahead to his uncertain future. But these four words sum up what he expected his future to include–even if it meant his possible execution.

STUDY GUIDE
Recap Notes: June 25, 2017
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: “Can You Predict Your Future?”
Text: Philippians 1:18b-21

Path

If you were to sit down and write a short description of what you wanted your future to look like, what words would you choose? Pastor Skip suggested four that come straight out of Paul’s experience: joy, confidence, hope, and life. After musing over past events that brought him to prison, Paul looked ahead to his uncertain future. But these four words sum up what he expected his future to include—even if it meant his possible execution. Pastor Skip pointed out the thoughts that kept Paul anchored in Christ:

  • Joy (v. 18b): Joy Is an Act of the Will
  • Confidence (v. 19): Confidence Is Developed by Prayer and Provision
  • Hope (v. 20): Hope Looks for Opportunities to Point to Christ
  • Life (v. 21): Life Happens Even in the Face of Death

Points

Joy

  • Paul spoke of the past up until the phrase “Yes, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18b). Then he began looking to the future.
  • His first future declaration focused on joy, a word used at least nineteen times in Philippians.
  • Paul was determined that all that had happened to him—arrest, prison, persecution, shipwreck, and imprisonment while awaiting trial with Caesar Nero—was not going to bring him down.
  • He told his audience—including us—that nothing and no one would steal his joy; it was fixed on and in the Lord.
  • Joy is a choice, an act of the will, internally triggered, tied to your relationship with God, and your reaction to being justified by faith.
  • Probe: Joy is commonly defined as a feeling of great pleasure. Discuss the difference between joy and happiness. Pastor Skip delineated them as being external (happiness) and internal (joy).

Confidence

  • Notice Paul’s use of the phrase I know in verse 19. There was certainty in Paul’s outlook that was determined by his up-look; he kept his eyes on God.
  • The word deliverance is a Greek word commonly used for salvation. Paul was not using it in the sense of being saved—he was already a Christian—but in the sense of being rescued: he believed that God would deliver him—”whether by life or by death” (v. 20).
  • Paul’s confidence was twofold:
    • It was based on the prayers of God’s people. Why should we pray?
      • Spiritual work requires spiritual tools.
      • Prayer produces confidence.
    • It was also based on the provision of God’s Spirit.
      • The word supply means a lavish supply, like a harmony of voices.
      • We can be confident because God will provide all we need through the Spirit.
      • The hand of God will not lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.
  • Probe: Confidence is the belief that one can rely on someone or something, a firm trust. Discuss how our confidence, like Paul’s, can be firmly placed in Christ. What characteristics of Christ command confidence?

Hope

  • Hope is an earnest expectation, a gaze at something in the distance. Paul was looking to Christ with undivided attention; more than anything, he wanted to be a faithful witness.
  • Part of Paul’s witness was boldness—a reminder that what the church needs is not to be breaking bad, but breaking bold.
  • Notice the words “Christ will be magnified.” The Greek word for magnified means to make great, to enlarge. How can we possibly make Christ greater?
    • Present your body as a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1). Let your hands, feet, and tongue—your whole body—be used for Christ’s glory.
  • Probe: The writer of Hebrews linked confidence, hope, and assurance together (see Hebrews 11:1). Discuss how these words are connected. How do confidence, hope, and assurance define our present circumstances and our future reality?

Life

  • Jesus was the summum bonum (the highest value) of Paul’s life, his motto, and his fuel to persevere.
  • Verse 21 demonstrates that Paul’s master passion was Jesus. Despite not knowing the circumstances his life would take, Paul knew what his goal was while he still lived: he lived for Christ, and he died for Christ under Nero.
  • In one brutal moment, Paul went from the imperial city of Rome to the eternal city of God. Tradition holds that Paul was beheaded; in that instant, he gained eternal life.
  • Probe: How can we live for Christ in today’s world? How is dying a gain for Christians?

Practice

Connect Up: In addition to the words discussed in this study (joy, confidence, hope, and life), what are some other characteristics that define believers (see Galatians 5:22-23)? How do they help us maintain an eternal perspective, focusing our attention on Christ and not on the world—providing us with a proper “up-look”?

Connect In: In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul tells the church to not be like those who don’t have hope. In these verses, Paul linked our hope to Christ’s return. How is the second coming of Jesus intricately linked to a believer’s hope for the future?

Connect Out: In a world where many have no future or hope, how can we use this message to communicate to unbelievers that God does have a beautiful future for those who believe? How can you use Jeremiah 29:11 as a witness tool?

DETAILED NOTES

  1. Introduction
    1. Predicting the future has been a favorite pastime since antiquity
      1. People’s desire to know the future makes horoscopes and fortune-tellers popular today
      2. We want to know what is coming in the future
    2. All forms of fortune-telling are forbidden in the Scriptures
  1. They are fake
  2. They call on nothing to predict the future they don’t know
  3. Only God can predict the future
  4. You can predict your future responses
  5. Up to this point in Philippians, Paul spoke in past tense
  1. Philippians 1:3, 5, 12
  2. Paul wrote to the Philippians about what happened in the past and what was happening in the present
  3. The future was uncertain for Paul
  1. He did not know what the outcome of his trial would be
  2. He made predictions about his responses to those circumstances
  3. If you are a follower of Christ, you can predict your responses as well
  4. Joy (v. 18b)
  5. Philippians is a letter
  1. Originally there were no chapters or verse identifications
  2. Until the year AD 1227, all of the Bible was text
  3. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, decided it would be easier to find things in the Bible with chapters and verses
  4. In AD 1382, the first English Bible to have verse numbers was the Wycliffe Bible
  5. Paul was saying that the things of the past would not rob him of his joy
  1. They had furthered the gospel
  2. Past circumstances
    1. He was arrested in Jerusalem
    2. He spent two years in jail at Caesarea by the Sea
    3. He went through three mistrials
    4. He was shipwrecked on his way to Rome to appeal to Caesar
    5. He was put in jail again in Rome
  3. Past and present people were also trying to rob him of joy
  4. Paul did not know what would happen in the future as far as circumstances went
  1. He would stand trial before Caesar Nero
  2. Caesar would either exonerate him or execute him
  3. Joy is an act of the will
  4. It is tethered to something different than happiness
  1. Happiness is a temporary feeling of delight if the circumstances go your way
  2. Joy is fixed
  3. The Bible mentions happiness about thirty times; it mentions joy 300 times
  4. The difference between happiness and joy
  1. Happiness is externally triggered; it goes up and down depending on the circumstances
  2. Joy is internally triggered; it is based on a relationship with God
  3. Happiness has its source in events, people, and things
  4. Joy has its source in God
  5. Though Paul may have been emotionally unhappy, he stated that nothing and no one would steal his joy
  6. Confidence (v. 19)
  7. Your outlook is determined by your uplook
  1. Paul saw not only the stars, but the God who made the stars
  2. If joy is an act of the will, then confidence is a statement of faith
  3. Paul knew he would be delivered
  1. Sótérian = deliverance, salvation
  2. Paul knew things would turn out for the best (see Romans 8:28)
  3. Confidence is developed by prayer and provision
  4. Prayer of God’s people
  1. Most believers marginalize prayer
  2. If we really thought prayer had the power to change things, we would be doing it a lot more
  3. We should pray because:
    1. Spiritual work requires spiritual tools
    2. It produces confidence
  4. Provision of God’s Spirit
  5. Epichorégia = supply, provision, equipment
  1. We get the word chorus from this
  2. It literally means one voice upon another
  3. The reason Paul was confident was because the Holy Spirit provided everything he needed to handle the future
  4. The hand of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you (see Zechariah 4:6)
  5. Hope (v. 20)
  6. Earnest expectation is like an intense form of hope
  1. It literally means to watch something with outstretched head
  2. Paul hoped more than anything else that he would be a faithful witness for Christ
  3. Hope looks for opportunities to point to Christ
  1. Paul wanted to express his faith and exalt his Savior
  2. He wanted to be bold
  3. While the world is breaking bad, the church needs to be breaking bold
  1. The world is bold about what it believes
  2. They want to get out there and get it in your face
  3. That is how Christians need to be about our faith
  4. Ask God to make you a bold Christian
  5. Paul hoped for Christ to be magnified
  6. How can you make the greatest Person in the world greater?
  1. To most people, Jesus was just someone from 2,000 years ago
  2. When you show up, Jesus is either magnified or minified through your life
  3. We should want God to be greater through our life (see Romans 12:1)
  4. Life (v. 21)
  5. Paul was passionate about Christ; he lived for Him
  1. Christ was the summation of Paul’s life
  2. John 11:25
  3. Life happens even in the face of death
  1. Later, Paul was arrested again, placed in solitary confinement, and sentenced to death
  2. In one brutal moment, Paul went from the imperial city of Rome to the eternal city of heaven
  3. Closing
  1. The only circumstance you can predict is whether you will spend eternity in heaven or in hell
  2. John 3:3

Figures referenced: Dale Carnegie, Howard Hendricks, Stephen Langton, Abraham Lincoln, Leonard Ravenhill, A.T. Robertson, Charles Spurgeon, Corrie ten Boom

Works referenced: Wycliffe Bible

Greek words: epichorégia, sótérian

Cross references: Zechariah 4:6; John 3:3; 11:25; Romans 8:28; 12:1; Philippians 1:3, 5, 12

Topic: Joy

Keywords: future, joy, circumstances, happiness, confidence, prayer, provision, hope, boldness

http://skipheitzig.com/teachings_view.asp?ServiceID=4209

Alaska Church Revitalization Result of Letting God Work, Pastor Says

By Scott Barkley June 30, 2022

Liberty Church has outgrown the worship area configured in the basement of its unfinished building. Photo courtesy of Jamie Baldwin / Baptist Press

CRAIG, Alaska (BP) – Liberty Church has made great strides in the past year. At one point down to 10 members, it currently averages 50-60 in attendance each Sunday. Community goodwill toward the church has grown through outreach. A partnership with Alabama Baptists has the congregation poised to move into new worship and education space.

On July 3 Liberty will host a Fourth of July extravaganza open to the public, celebrating what God has done in addition to dedicating its new building and recognizing the ordination of Pastor Cody Schwegel. With such momentum, Schwegel’s response after being asked about further plans may surprise you.

“I don’t have any,” he said.

That doesn’t mean the church’s work will fizzle out like a July 5 sparkler. Schwegel grew up in Craig, a town that despite a population of just over 1,000 is nevertheless the largest on Prince of Wales Island, which is conversely the fourth-largest island in the United States. He’s familiar with the effects of the long, wet winters that contribute to depression and drug and alcohol addiction. He’s seen firsthand the lack of jobs and loneliness from isolation.

RELATED: The FIRST STEP in Church Revitalization May Shock You

It’s an environment where Liberty Church can become a beacon for freedom through Christ.

“It’s a perfect place for the Church to get its act together and minister to people through love and grace,” he said. “There are so many opportunities to change the direction of the generation coming up, to be the generation that seeks God’s face.

“We want to show them that God’s love is better than what the world can give them.”

Schwegel had been a ministry leader and apprentice at Anchor Church before being named pastor. Anchor struggled and in October 2020 decided to shut the doors for a season, with plans to replant.

“I’m not a quitter,” Schwegel said. “The church was strong; we just didn’t have the numbers.”

About 2,800 miles away, Jamie Baldwin was preparing to enjoy retirement in Tallassee, Ala. Baldwin had spent 23 years in Sunday school and discipleship ministries with Alabama Baptists, but had barely leaned back in his rocking chair before he got a phone call.

Scotty Goldman, Alabama’s director of the Office of Global Missions, was on the other line. Alaska Baptists had called asking for help with a church revitalization. Could Baldwin help?

That led to a five-year partnership agreement between Alaska and Alabama, with Baldwin living in Craig for six months last year and currently coming to the end of two months there.

RELATED: Sam Rainer: The Number One Rule of Church Revitalization

“I will be 68 years old tomorrow (June 25) and have 50 years in the ministry,” Baldwin said. “I have never worked so hard in my life nor been part of a greater blessing than the last two years working with Cody and Liberty Church.”

Nine teams comprising more than 70 people visited last summer to help finish the construction of Liberty’s building, begun when it was still Anchor Church. Baldwin told Baptist Press that he estimates more than 100 Alabama Baptist churches gave by sending either volunteers or money.

A group from First Baptist Church in Reeltown, Ala., is currently working to complete the upstairs sanctuary and education space in time for the July 3 celebration.

“Folks in the town are seeing the difference in the church and how they’re reaching out to the community. They’re seeing what’s happening here,” said Tim Smith, First Reeltown’s pastor.

“It’s been pretty cool to watch. Our folks who are here are seeing it too and it keeps them energized.”

Schwegel knows about energy, as he works full-time for Alaska Power & Telephone. Liberty’s outreach team had made its presence felt last year through efforts such as providing a backpack for every child on the island who wanted one. Schwegel felt God calling for another big effort at Christmas but knew the church didn’t have the funds. He filed for grants and asked around, but nothing materialized. Schwegel told church leaders he didn’t think the outreach would happen.

Then he went to work and found a $5,000 check waiting on his desk. His company was so impressed with Liberty’s community impact that it fast-tracked a grant that would normally not appear until January.

That grant turned into presents for children on the island, with custom wrapping paper that said “Liberty Church” and a gift note. The final gifts were deposited on front porches on Christmas Eve.

RELATED: Virginia Church Continues Revitalization a Year After Pastor’s Death

“Facebook was lit up the next morning of people posting pictures,” Schwegel said.

Liberty will celebrate its one-year anniversary as Craig recognizes the 100th anniversary of its being incorporated as a city. In that relationship, Schwegel’s current sermon series is focused on developing the church as an agent for the Gospel and change in the culture.

The culture and ministry setting of Prince of Wales Island epitomizes the importance of Southern Baptist work in those areas, as was recognized in the recent resolution SBC messengers adopted at their annual meeting in Anaheim on the mission field in rural America. It also shows the importance of Baptist partnerships.

“We are so excited about the new vision and passion for reaching the community of Craig with the Gospel,” said Randy Covington, Alaska Baptists’ executive director. “Liberty Church, along with pastor Cody, couldn’t have done this without the efforts of Alabama Baptists and the Alaska Baptist Resource Network in a coordinated revitalization effort. This church will also be instrumental in reaching other communities across the Prince of Wales Island.”

More volunteers will soon be needed. Liberty recently signed a contract for acreage on a lake and has 40,000 board feet of lumber donated for construction. An earth-moving company has committed to get the work underway after the deal is closed.

The idea is to help children in southeast Alaska have a place to go that won’t break the bank just to get there.

Prince of Wales Island is accessible only by plane or a three-hour ferry ride. A roundtrip air ticket to Juneau costs $1,100, Schwegel said. There are two other Southern Baptist churches on the island. A trip to the state office in Anchorage is about the same distance as Montgomery to Des Moines.

“There is another camp in Alaska that wants to help us staff it,” he said. “We just need to get the ministry leaders there and raise the funds. We have a year to do it, but we’ve seen God work in miraculous ways.”

RELATED: 12 Questions for Pastors in Churches Needing Revitalization

Schwegel has no further plans for ministry because he doesn’t consider them his plans. They should come from God, with Liberty Church being obedient to follow them.

“One of the mistakes we made in the past was having expectations,” he said. “If you do things with expectations and things fail, you get discouraged. It prevents you from attempting to do what God is calling you to do.

Alaska church revitalization is the result of letting God work, Schwegel says, “We go into ministry events not expecting anything except to just be obedient and let God work. Let His message work the way that He intended it.”

This article originally appeared at Baptist Press.

Justice Thomas shows how we can end Big Tech censorship for good -fires warning shot at media, organizations that lie about conservatives

By  Betsy McCaughey April 6, 2021

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Thomas cited the crisis problem of social-media platforms like Facebook and Google wielding unlimited power to censor users whose views they don’t like.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Thomas cited the crisis problem of social-media platforms like Facebook and Google wielding unlimited power to censor users whose views they don’t like. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Monday, Justice Clarence Thomas announced that the Supreme Court soon will have to put an end to Big Tech tyranny. Amen. If the high court fails to act, it could mean the end of free speech in the 21st century and the shriveling of our constitutional rights to mere “paper rights” — still there on paper but functionally hollowed out.

Thomas cited the problem of social-media platforms like Facebook and Google wielding unlimited power to censor users whose views they don’t like. His opinion offers hope at a time when Democrats controlling Congress are demanding that tech giants censor more. On March 25, Democrats on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce ordered tech CEOs to silence views that “undermine social-justice movements.”

Thomas’ announcement came in the context of a case involving former President Donald Trump. In office, Trump occasionally blocked his Twitter critics, and some of those critics sued, claiming the president’s Twitter account is a public forum. The high court ruled the case is now moot, because Trump is out of office. Thomas concurred — and agreed with a lower court holding that Trump had violated his critics’ First Amendment right to be heard.  

But Thomas said “the more glaring concern” isn’t what Trump did to a few critics, but rather the power of tech giants to censor or ban users entirely, even the leader of the Free World. The justice expressed astonishment that Facebook and Google could remove Trump’s account “at any time for any or no reason.” 

Wrote Thomas: “One person controls Facebook . . . and just two control Google.” Three people, in other words, have the power to disappear any of us from the digital public square, even a commander in chief. The Supremes, Thomas concluded, must rein in this unaccountable tyranny.

Big Tech apologists argue that private companies are free to censor as they please. And it’s true that the First Amendment prohibits only government from silencing viewpoints. But private ownership is never the beginning and end of constitutional analysis, not when there is so much at stake.

As Thomas showed, these companies are more like common carriers or public utilities than private companies. And they must be regulated as such: AT&T can’t refuse to open a phone account for you or limit your conversations based on your worldview. Likewise, Southwest Airlines can’t pick and choose who rides its aircraft based on their opinions about transgenderism or #Russiagate. Yet the tech giants get to do exactly that. Why?

Thomas also likened Big Tech to “public accommodations,” such as hotels and baseball stadiums, which are legally required to serve everyone and not discriminate.  

Nor did Thomas buy free-market absolutists’ argument about competition limiting Big Tech tyranny. He pointed to the “substantial barriers to entry” facing newcomers. The fate of Parler proves the justice’s point. When the Twitter alternative offered a censorship-free platform, Big Tech colluded to crush it.  

We’re facing a new form of censorship, in some ways far more sinister than the state-directed variety. Democrats and their media allies are happy to deputize Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to censor the deplorables; there is no recourse or appeal, because the people doing the censoring are nameless, faceless Silicon Valley operatives.

And don’t count on President Joe Biden. A staggering 14 of his picks to serve in the transition or in his new government are Big Tech alumni, according to a Daily Caller tally. Indeed, Biden probably owes his presidency in part to Big Tech — which rushed to censor this newspaper’s reporting on the Hunter Files, on the patently false pretext that The Post had peddled “disinformation” or “hacked material.”

It’s salutary, then, that Thomas believes the high court can apply his reasoning without waiting for Congress. Until then, the public will hear only what Silicon Valley wants, and the place is awash with wokesters more dangerous than any college campuses — because these people control the levers of information.

Last week, Lara Trump posted an interview with the former president on Facebook. Immediately, Facebook took it down, explaining that “further content posted in the voice of Donald Trump will be removed.”

Only the high court will restore uncensored discourse, an American ideal. Thomas’ opinion illumines the way. 

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.

Thomas fires warning shot at media, organizations that lie about conservatives

Court’s ‘double standard’ lacks basis in ‘text, history or structure’ of Constitution

By WND News Services July 3, 2022

David Muir of ABC's 'World News Tonight' tapes a TV interview with Joe Biden on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021, in the Cross Hall of the White House. (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

David Muir of ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ tapes a TV interview with Joe Biden on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021, in the Cross Hall of the White House. (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by The Daily Signal.]

By Hans von Spakovsky
The Daily Signal

President Joe Biden and his liberal compatriots in politics, the media, and social media constantly are crowing about “misinformation.” Although the type of censorship they seem to support is not the answer, reconsideration of the legal standard governing defamation, as Justice Clarence Thomas has urged, might be.

The Supreme Court denied certiorari Monday in the case of Coral Ridge Ministries Media v. Southern Poverty Law Center. In his dissent from the high court’s refusal to accept the appeal, Thomas once again urges fellow justices to reconsider the double standard for defamation that the court established in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964. Thomas first did so in a longer dissent in 2021 in another case the court refused to hear, Berisha v. Lawson.

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Coral Ridge Ministries, as Thomas explains, is a “Christian nonprofit dedicated to spreading the ‘Gospel of Jesus Christ’ and ‘a biblically informed view of the world.’”  In 2017, Amazon told Coral Ridge Ministries that it was ineligible for Amazon’s nonprofit donation program because it had been labeled as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The ministry sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for defaming the organization, saying that although Coral Ridge “opposed homosexual conduct” due to its Christian beliefs, it is not a “hate group.” The ministry said it “has nothing but love for people who engage in homosexual conduct” and “has never attacked or maligned anyone on the basis of engaging in homosexual conduct.”

The defamation case was dismissed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals because Coral Ridge Ministries is considered a “public figure” and could not prove that the Southern Poverty Law Center had acted with “actual malice” under the New York Times v. Sullivan standard when it made the “hate crime” claim about the ministry.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Official portrait)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Official portrait)

The “actual malice” standard is the issue that Thomas is complaining about.

In New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court suddenly created a new legal standard that never existed before in defamation law, which had been governed by state law since our founding, claiming this new standard was required by the Constitution.

Does this sound familiar? According to the court, two legal standards govern defamation lawsuits: one for those considered “private” figures or individuals and another, stricter standard for so-called public figures.

If you are a private figure and The New York Times or the Southern Poverty Law Center publishes a lie about you, you simply have to prove that the statement was false and harmed your reputation. The fact that the publisher didn’t know or care that the statement was false is irrelevant.

But if you are a “public figure,” you not only have to prove that the statement was false and harmed your reputation, but that the statement was made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

And the definition of who is a public figure constantly has expanded since 1964.

As Justice Neal Gorsuch explained in his own dissent from the denial of a writ of certiorari in the Berisha case, in which he joined Thomas in urging the court to reconsider the legal standard in libel and defamation cases, at first “public figures” meant only government officials.

Then, the definition was expanded to “public figures” outside government, then to those who have achieved “pervasive fame or notoriety,” and then to “limited” public figures “who voluntarily inject” themselves or are “drawn into a particular public controversy.”

Today, this definition of “public figure” is so expansive that the only issue is who it doesn’t cover.

As Thomas correctly observes in his most recent dissent, this double standard has no basis in “the text, history, or structure of the Constitution.” The decision in New York Times v. Sullivan “and the court’s [other] decisions extending it were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law.”

And what has been the result? According to Thomas, and to anyone who has been paying attention to the outrageous lies and misrepresentations—especially about conservatives—that we see regularly on CNN, MSNBC, and other far-left media organizations, some persons and media outlets can “cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.”

In the case of Coral Ridge Ministries, the Southern Poverty Law Center “lumped” in the Christian organization with real hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, Thomas writes. SPLC put the ministry on “an interactive, online ‘Hate Map’ and caused Coral Ridge concrete financial injury by excluding them from the AmazonSmile donation program.”

Under the actual malice standard “this court has imposed,” Thomas writes, “Coral Ridge could not hold SPLC to account for what it maintains is a blatant falsehood.”

Even the supposed logic behind the Supreme Court’s creation of this standard fails. As Thomas explains, the court “provides scant explanation for the decision to erect a new hurdle for public-figure plaintiffs so long after the First Amendment’s ratification.”

One explanation was that false claims against private individuals are more serious that those against public figures, who are fair targets because they “invite attention and comment.” But as Thomas says, the “common law deemed libels against public figures to be … more serious and injurious than ordinary libels.”

Also, Thomas writes, it “is unclear why exposing oneself to an increased risk of becoming a victim [as a public figure] necessarily means forfeiting the remedies legislatures put in place for such victims.”

Thomas and Gorsuch make strong argument about the fundamental unfairness of the “actual malice” standard and the fact that there is no basis for it in the Constitution or our legal history. As Gorsuch wrote in his Berisha dissent:

[O]ver time the actual malice standard has evolved from a high bar to recovery into an effective immunity from liability. … The bottom line? It seems that publishing without investigation, fact-checking, or editing has become the optimal legal strategy. Under the actual malice regime as it has evolved, ‘ignorance is bliss.’

No wonder so many Americans distrust what they hear in the “news.” The public knows that the media can get away with printing or saying just about anything they want, no matter how false or malicious.

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by The Daily Signal.]

VIDEO Two Armed Human Smugglers Arrested near Border in AZ – Horror in San Antonio At Least 50 People Found Dead Inside Abandoned Semi Trailer During Human Smuggling Operation – Open Your Eyes

June 27, 2022 by Sundance

This is an almost unimaginable horror in San Antonio, Texas.  This is also the outcome of the Biden administration and Democrats open border policy that fuels the desperate efforts of illegal aliens and predatory human smugglers.

(KSAT News) – San Antonio – At least 42 people were found dead inside a tractor-trailer on the Southwest Side, and 16 others were taken to area hospitals in varying conditions, according to multiple SAPD sources.

Several San Antonio police vehicles, as well as fire trucks and ambulances, are covering a portion of Quintana Road on the Southwest Side. Crews are surrounding an 18-wheeler near the 9600 block of Quintana Road next to railroad tracks. (READ MORE)

At least 50 people found dead in abandoned 18-wheeler in San Antonio

The authorities said the tragedy appeared to be the deadliest migrant-smuggling operation in memory. Sixteen people were taken to hospitals.

BY JADEN EDISON AND PATRICK SVITEK JUNE 27, 2022UPDATED: JUNE 28, 2022

A tractor-trailer found near Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio contained the bodies of 46 dead people, along with 16 ot…
Law enforcement officers work at the scene in San Antonio where dozens of people were found dead inside a tractor-trailer on Monday. Credit: Nick Wagner for The Texas Tribune

SAN ANTONIO — A tractor-trailer found near Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio contained the bodies of 50 dead people, along with 16 others who have been taken to hospitals, according to local officials in San Antonio and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a news conference near the scene.

Local officials said federal authorities were now investigating the case and that three people were in custody, but it was unclear if they were connected to the incident. A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson said Homeland Security Investigations is leading a criminal investigation with the support of San Antonio police.

The horrifying discovery was made near the intersection of Cassin Drive and Quintana Road in Southwest San Antonio.

Federal, state and local authorities believe that the victims were migrants. Cross-border smuggling and human trafficking have been longstanding problems along the U.S.-Mexico border, but the deaths of 50 people represent a stunning loss of life. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus described the case as the deadliest human smuggling incident he could recall in the city.

“Horrified at this tragic loss of life near San Antonio. This speaks to the desperation of migrants who would put their lives in the hands of callous human smugglers who show no regard for human life,” Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement. “We will be working with our federal, state and local partners to assist in every way possible with this investigation.”

Authorities received the first call about the truck shortly before 6 p.m. from a worker in the area who had heard a cry for help and went to investigate, McManus said.

According to a law enforcement official, it appears people were trying to jump out of the tractor-trailer because some of the deceased were found along several blocks. The tractor-trailer had a refrigeration system, the official said, but it did not appear to be working. Many of the people found inside the vehicle appeared to have been sprinkled with steak seasoning, the official said, in perhaps an attempt to cover up the smell of people as the smugglers were transporting them.

Authorities said the truck’s doors were partly open when they arrived; a body was outside the vehicle and the rest could be seen inside. The city’s fire chief, Charles Hood, said the survivors did not appear to have access to water and were too weak to exit the truck on their own.

“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there,” Hood said. “None of us come to work imagining that.”

Twelve adults and four children were taken to hospitals. They were hot to the touch and were suffering from heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but Hood said he was “very hopeful” that they would survive.

With a few days left in the month, National Weather Service meteorologists say June 2022 has already become the warmest June on record in San Antonio.

The average number of days with temperatures of 100 degrees or higher in San Antonio is nine, according to historical data from NWS dating back to 1885. This year, San Antonio has had 16 days with temperatures of 100 degrees or higher, NWS meteorologist Bob Fogarty said.

McManus told reporters that he was not confident that everyone who had been inside the truck had been accounted for, and that authorities still don’t have an indication of how many people in total had been inside the truck. He said the three people in custody were not found with the truck, but declined to comment further.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the Mexican consul in San Antonio was en route to the incident site, according to Reuters. Ebrard said the nationalities of all the victims were still unknown, but Guatemalan officials said in a statement that U.S. and Mexican authorities have confirmed some of the victims are from Guatemala. Officials with the Guatemalan consulate in McAllen said they are visiting a hospital to see if two of the children who survived are from Guatemala.

The Honduran foreign ministry said it is investigating whether any of the victims were from Honduras. Alex Selgado of Fuerza Catracha, a Honduran immigrant rights organization, told The San Antonio Express-News at the scene that “officials did inform us that some of the deceased may be Honduran because they had emblems or insignia of our country” on their clothing.

In 2017, San Antonio police discovered 39 undocumented immigrants inside of a scorching-hot tractor-trailer, resulting in 10 deaths. The driver of the truck was sentenced to life in prison in 2018.

Meanwhile in 2003, 19 undocumented immigrants were found dead in Victoria after suffocating in an airless trailer.

The Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol last week said it had disrupted four human smuggling events that resulted in 50 arrests.

“I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of life today and am praying for those still fighting for their lives,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. secretary of Homeland Security. “Far too many lives have been lost as individuals — including families, women, and children — take this dangerous journey.”

In a tweet responding to the incident, Gov. Greg Abbott blamed the deaths on Joe Biden, saying that “they are a result of his deadly open border policies.”

Biden responded in a statement Tuesday.

“Exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy, and my Administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry,” he said.

Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who’s running against Abbott for governor, tweeted that the incident is “devastating.”

Gustavo García-Siller, the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Antonio, wrote on Twitter: “Once again, the lack of courage to deal with immigration reform is killing and destroying lives. We do not learn. God teach us to change.”

The Mexican consul general in San Antonio, Ruben Minutti, asked any Mexican citizens seeking help or information about the incident to call the consulate at 210-872-4386, according to San Antonio Report.

Lomi Kriel contributed to this story.

The Texas Tribune is trying to learn more about the lives of the 50 victims and 16 survivors found inside an 18-wheeler in San Antonio on Monday evening. Please help us tell their stories by emailing us at tips@texastribune.org.

https://www.texastribune.org/2022/06/27/bodies-18-wheeler-san-antonio-lackland/

Two Armed Human Smugglers Arrested near Border in Arizona

Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents arrest two armed smugglers in southern Arizona. (U.S. Border Patrol/Tucson Sector)
U.S. Border Patrol/Tucson Sector

BOB PRICE 4 Jul 2022

Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents arrested two armed human smugglers as they attempted to move migrants into the U.S. interior from southern Arizona. The arrests occurred in two separate attempts.

Tucson Sector Chief Patrol Agent John R. Modlin tweeted photos showing an armed human smuggler being stopped by an Ajo Station agent. The agent recovered a handgun from the vehicle.

Ajo Station agents stopped the red sedan on SR-85 last week. During an immigration interview, the agent identified the driver as a U.S. citizen and the family unit with a two-year-old child as foreign nationals illegally present in the U.S.

The agents arrested the driver, a U.S. citizen, and seized the handgun.

Elsewhere in the Tucson Sector, Douglas Station Border Patrol agents stopped a blue sedan for an immigration inspection on SR-80. Chief Modlin and U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief Matthew Hudak stopped by and observed the agents as they found two Guatemalan migrants locked inside the trunk in the summer heat.

Wilcox Station agents responded to a call for assistance from Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers on SR-90. The agents conducted an immigration interview and found four Mexican migrants being smuggled.

Police arrested two U.S. citizens in connection to the smuggling incident During a search of the vehicle, a small handgun was found in the center console.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point?Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

https://www.breitbart.com/border/2022/07/04/two-armed-human-smugglers-arrested-near-border-in-arizona/

Dawn is coming, Open your eyes


Related

VIDEO The Word Became Flesh

Dec 18, 2011 John MacArthur

Let’s go back to John chapter 1 and talk a little bit about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, back to John chapter 1.

I think this year we’ve received fewer Christmas cards than any other year. Are you having that experience? And I just don’t – people aren’t sending as many Christmas cards, but the ones that they do send are two kinds: pictures of their kids, pictures of family, which are great and wonderful, and pictures of shepherds and wise men and mangers and stars and angels and all of that, right?

I mean that’s pretty much – we could separate them, the people go over here, the manger scenes go over here, and that seems to be the current theme. And you might even wonder if the Christmas story could even be told without those very familiar elements. What would the Christmas story be with no stable, no manger, no Joseph, no Mary, no Bethlehem, no shepherds, no angels, no star, no wise men and no baby? What would the Christmas story be?

It would be John’s account of the Christmas story. I read it. Fourteen verses, no Joseph, no Mary, no Bethlehem, no manger, no stable, no shepherds, no wise men, no star, no angels, and no baby. But this is not any less the story. And if you think you can’t tell the story without those features, you’re wrong because that’s exactly what John does here.

One line from the text that I read you stands out and I want us to look at that line, it’s in the last verse, verse 14, and here is the story in four words – four words in English, four words in Greek, “The Word became flesh.” The Word became flesh. That is the most profound truth of all truth. That’s why we celebrate Christmas. Not because of the physical features of a stable and a manger and a star and a young couple and shepherds and wise men. They all participate, of course, in the physical historical features of the birth of Christ. But the real story is the Word became flesh.

John is an absolute master at an economy of words, saying things that are vast and incomprehensible in very simple terms, so simple that a child can understand them and the wisest of the wise cannot plumb the full depth of them. The Word became flesh.

Who is the Word? Verse 1 says, “The Word was with God and the Word was God. And this Word became flesh,” verse 14 says, “and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory.” The Word became flesh, dwelled among us, without giving up any of His glory. This is the story of Christmas.

Now, I understand the familiar accounts of Matthew and Luke, which give us all the elements and personalities and features that kind of make up the telling of the story that’s charming and sentimental and wonderful, I understand that. But far more important than understanding all of that is understanding what was really going on from the supernatural side. Frankly, there was nothing supernatural, apart from the angels’ appearances. The manger wasn’t supernatural, neither was the stable, neither were Joseph and Mary, neither were the shepherds or the wise men, for that matter.

But there is a supernatural reality going on there that John explains to us that is critical for us to understand because the non-negotiable reality that we celebrate at this time of the year is that the eternal God, the infinite, transcendent, all-knowing, all-powerful, all present, everlastingly unchanging, eternal God of the universe became a human being. That is the message.

Emmanuel, you heard it sung, which means “God with us.” That is the essential truth of Christianity and the most essential truth of all truth because it is the only truth that can save a sinner from eternal hell. John writes his gospel to get that truth across, that we would understand that Jesus is God in human flesh. Again, Matthew and Luke give us the earthly elements, the historical features. John gives us the heavenly elements, the supernatural features. The message is about the deity of Christ.

In fact, that’s John’s message all the way through, and not only John, but the other gospel writers and all the rest of the writers of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, they all want us to know that Jesus is God. In fact, if you go through the New Testament, you’ll find all kinds of lines of evidence. He claimed to be God. He said, “I and the Father are one. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” There are direct statements about Him that He is God. Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God.”

Titles are given to Jesus that belong only to God, the eternal judge, the holy One, the first and the last, the Lord of the Sabbath, the Savior, the Mighty God, the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Lord of glory, the Redeemer. These are terms that are used of God alone in the Old Testament and of Christ in the New – evidence that He is God. And He possesses those incommunicable attributes; that is, attributes of God’s person that cannot be passed on to us, such as the fact that He is eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, sovereign, and all glorious. And all of those things are said of Christ as well.

And then Jesus did works that only God can do, raising the dead, overpowering the kingdom of darkness, and forgiving sin. Jesus also received worship. We have that throughout the story of the New Testament, from the gospels all the way to the book of Revelation. The angels disdained to be worshiped in Revelation 22. Men disdained to be worshiped in Acts 10. And Jesus accepted worship, evidence that He is God.

Jesus also received and answered prayer, something only God can do. The evidences of the deity of Jesus Christ fill the Scripture, but none of them are more powerful than this opening section of the gospel of John. And it gets overlooked. I think sometimes familiarity causes us to sort of push it away. We hear the sounds of it. I even memorized this in Greek once long ago. It was so familiar.

But the most concise statement in all the Bible on the incarnation, God becoming man, are the four words in verse 14, “The Word became flesh.” God became a man. The infinite became finite. The eternal One entered time. The invisible became visible.

Why is He called the Word? Why not say, “In the beginning was Christ” (or Jesus or the Lord Jesus or the Lord Jesus Christ)? Why the Word? Because that term, logos in the Greek, is so loaded with meaning, both for Jew and Gentile. Talk about the Gentiles for a moment. The term “Word” is used once there in verse 14 to describe Jesus in the incarnation and three times in verse 1. And interestingly, there’s no explanation of it.

Now, when a term is used in the scriptures and it isn’t explained, then we can assume that they didn’t need an explanation, that it was so obvious what it meant that there was no need to dive into it, and that would be the case. Greeks would read this and they would completely understand what John was attempting to say because in the Greek world of philosophy and religion, the logos was believed to be a title given to the creative force, to the ordering, intelligent mind of the universe.

This is an abstract mind to the Greeks. An impersonal, non-personal principle of reason and order and intelligence, a creative force, a source of knowledge and wisdom that existed. It would be very much like what is popular today called I.D., intelligent design. Evolution is crumbling under the weight of its own lies, and in its place is rising a kind of non-theistic notion called intelligent design, and the people who affirm that say we’ve got to have an intelligent designer because we have an intelligent universe. So we believe in intelligent design. But like the Greeks, some kind of impersonal force.

It was Einstein who first launched this when he said of course there is a God, of course there is a power behind this, but we could never know it. This is cosmic force, cosmic intelligence, cosmic order, certainly not to be identified as the God of the bible because if you’re going to make it into the God of the Bible, then we’ve got to deal with the God of the Bible in the way that it’s revealed in the Bible, and we not only have a Creator, we have a judge and a law-giver and an executioner for those who reject Him.

What John is saying here is this: The logos is not an impersonal power. The logos is not some kind of floating principle of reason. The logos is a person. To the Greek mind, the logos was the most powerful force in the universe, creative power, source of wisdom, knowledge, intelligence. And John is saying this is a person, and He became a man, a personal God who came into the world in the man, Jesus.

To the Jew, the Word had even more meaning. And by the way, that was not just a philosophical understanding that trickled down to the populace in the Greek world from their philosophers so that they all understood the meaning of the word logos in their system. But to the Jews, the Word of the Lord was a very familiar idea. If you read the Old Testament, you will read this many times, “The Word of the Lord came,” “The Word of the Lord came,” “The Word of the Lord came to so-and-so.” The Word of the Lord was simply God revealing Himself, His person, His nature, His will, His wisdom, His truth.

The Word of the Lord was the expression of the personal God, the true and living God of the Old Testament. By His Word, God had spoken. Hebrews 1 says, “Through many means in many ways, in time past, through the prophets God spoke.” John is saying that the revelation of God, the disclosure of God, the manifestation of God is now incarnate. The expression of God’s nature, will, wisdom, truth is embodied. That’s why Hebrews 1 says, “In time past He spoke and now He’s spoken unto us,” verse 2, “in His Son.” God is being revealed in Christ. You’re hearing from God. You’re seeing God unveiled, manifest.

So the Word is God, the personal God to the Jew, in flesh. Jesus, then, is God in human flesh. He is the Word of the living God. And He uses that term because it covers both the Gentiles and the Jews, and it’s a magnificent thing because in Psalm 138, verse 2, God says, “I’ve exalted my Word equal to my name.” God and His Word are one and the same because if God doesn’t speak, we don’t know anything about Him. When He does speak, everything He speaks is consistent with who He is.

So God (the Word) became flesh. “Became” is an important verb, I’m going to bring it up again, so just mark it in your mind, ginomai. Though God is unchanging, immutable, changeless, God, then, is pure being. God is pure being and as God doesn’t become anything. God is not becoming, God is not changing, God is not growing. God is not getting more information, as some people say. God is not at any point incomplete. God is pure, unchangeable being. And yet, though He is being as God and not becoming as God, He became a man. And that was a change.

The incarnation was that event when God took on the fullness of humanity while remaining fully God. Two natures, not mingled, fused together in indivisible oneness in one person, the Lord Jesus Christ. And you sang about it a few minutes ago when you sang Charles Wesley’s great hymn, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” Do you remember this verse? “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, hail the incarnate deity, pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.” That is just a great verse, maybe the best verse in all the Christian carols. The eternal God becomes a man. God speaks in human flesh as a man. Fully man and fully God.

And to make it unmistakable, verse 14 says, “And dwelt among us.” Christ’s humanity is not an illusion, it is not a vision, it is not an apparition, it is not some kind of phantom, it is not some kind of mental experience. It is not a mere appearance. He took on humanity. Philippians 2:7, He was made in the likeness of men. Or Hebrews 2, “He partook of flesh and blood.” And to make the statement irrefutable, He lived in this world thirty-three years – thirty of them as a man among men with no indications that He was any other than a human being, until He began His ministry.

In Colossians chapter 2 and verse 9, Paul says, “In Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form.” No diminishing of His deity, He is fully God and fully man, and He dwelt among us so that we could know that. John wants us to know that that’s what Christmas is about, God fully God, becomes man, fully man, and dwells among us to reveal who He is. He speaks in a way that He has never spoken before. The clearest representation of God ever was the incarnation of Christ. Jesus is the Word who became flesh.

Now, John is going to give us three lines of revelation, three lines of declaration, three lines that help us to grasp the deity of Christ. Now, if this sounds a little philosophical, it isn’t – going to come right out of the text. First of all, John shows us that the Word became flesh by virtue of His preexistence – by virtue of His preexistence. Let’s go back to verse 1. “In the beginning was the Word.” Now we’ll stop right there. In the beginning was the Word. What beginning? The beginning of what? In the beginning of the beginning.

That is a phrase taken right out of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth.” In the beginning. Archē refers to Genesis 1:1, the original beginning of everything that exists. In the beginning, when everything that exists came into existence – listen – the Word was. In other words, Jesus was already in existence when everything that exists came into existence. That’s that statement, it’s profound. In the beginning, when everything was created, the Word already was. He is not a created being. He existed before anything that now exists existed. Since time began with creation, whoever exists before time exists eternally. At the point where everything began, He already was – preexistence.

Was is an imperfect tense verb, eimi, a form of eimiEimi is the verb to be, and it describes continuous existence. The imperfect tense describes continuous reality. Eimi is the verb to be, continuous existence before the beginning of everything. When the beginning began, He already was. John doesn’t use ginomai, he doesn’t say, “In the beginning, the Word came into existence.” He uses eimi, “In the beginning the Word already existed.” There never was a point when He came into existence. And that is why the testimony of Scripture is that He is before all things. That is why He says in John 8, “Before Abraham was, I am.” He was, in the beginning, already existing.

The Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others tell us He was a created being. In fact, the Mormons tell us that the God of the Bible was created by another God, the other God created the God of the Bible who then created Jesus. Those are such damning lies because they deny God being God and Christ being God. Not only did He exist in the beginning, follow through this first verse, He was with God – He was with God. In verse 2, He says it again. “He was, in the beginning, already with God.” When the beginning began, He was already existing with God. That’s very important. He is not God’s competitor, He is not some antagonist to God.

He is not one of multiple gods, there are not two gods, competing gods. He is with God. He is pros ton theon. That literally means face-to-face with God in intelligent personal communion. He is then distinct from God because He is with God. He preexists in fellowship with God. This is so important. In John 17, He prays at the end of His incarnation, looking at the cross, “Restore to me the glory I had with you before the world began, when we were pros ton theon face-to-face.

And what was the relationship that He had with God? God gives testimony, God the Father gives testimony to His relationship to the Son in Luke 3:22 at the baptism when He says, “This is my” – what Son? – “beloved Son.” The Son of my love. He is not a competitor to God, He is not another God. He is not a lesser God. He is before any creation existing and He’s existing in intimate, personal communion with the Father. And it is a communion of love, perfect love.

This is preexistence. If Jesus is preexistent, then He is not part of the creation. If He is preexistent, He is outside the creation and He is before time. And if He is outside the creation and before time, He is eternal. And if He is eternal, He is God.

Secondly, John wants us to understand, even digging deeper into this profound reality and doing it in simple words that a child could understand, not only does He speak of the preexistence of Christ, but He speaks of the co-existence of Christ. Go back to verse 1. Not only was He with God, verse 1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.” The Word was God. He is both with God and is God. And therein lies the mystery of the Trinity, right? He is distinct from the Father, having face-to-face communion with the Father, and yet is fully God as is the Father.

As we read in Colossians 2:9, “In Him, all the fullness of deity dwells.” In His preexistence, eternal preexistence, He is with God and He is God. And that is His co-existence – His co-existence. He is as much God as God is God. The Word is not an attribute of God. The Word is not a message from God. The Word is not an emanation from God. The Word is not a creation by God. The Word is God. He is a person with God and a person who is God.

Charles Wesley wrote another hymn that we love, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” – you know that hymn? And in that, he says, “He left His Father’s throne above, amazing love how can it be that thou, my God, would die for me?” This is the heart and soul of Christianity. Four words in the Greek again, four words in English. The Word was God. Clearest most direct revelation of the deity of Jesus Christ on the pages of Scripture. The end of verse 1, “The Word was God.”

The Word is the subject, the Word is God. He is with God as a separate person and yet He is God by nature. He has the same nature/essence as God. So when you think about the Christmas story, this is what is at the heart of the whole thing. The One who came into the world is God Himself, is God the Son who was eternally with God before anything existed, preexistent and coexistent with God.

There’s a third very important reality that John wants us to understand, and that is not only the words preexistence and coexistence with God, but His self-existence. And now, when you get to this expression or this phrase or this term, you’re really grappling with the substance of deity. When you talk about His preexistence, it’s important because you’re talking about His eternality. When you’re talking about His coexistence, it’s important because you’re talking about His equality. But now, when you talk about His self-existence, you’re talking about the essence of His nature.

One is eternality, two is equality, three is essence. His self-existence is critical. Through the years, this has kind of been an abstract idea, kind of left in the back waters of theology, and theologians have a word for this, they call it the aseity of God, A-S-E-I-T-Y, the aseity of God, a very obscure term, but it means the self-existence of God.

What does it mean that He is self-existent? It means, in simple language – go down to verse 4, here it is again – four words. I told you John’s economy of words is stunning. “In Him was life.” In Him was life. John 5:26 says it again, that in God is life and in the Son is life. This is an amazing statement. Life. Not bios, not just physical life, but zoē, the biggest, broadest term for all kinds of life. And what it’s saying is this: Life was in Him.

What do you mean by that? Well, look at it from a negative standpoint. He didn’t receive life from any other source. He didn’t develop life from some other power. This is self-existence. He wasn’t given life, He didn’t receive life, He possesses it as an essential of His nature. In Him was life. That’s why Jesus would say things like, “I’m the way, the truth, and the life.” This is the truth of the self-existence of God.

And I tell you, this reality concerning Jesus Christ is foundational to the Christian faith. And unless you believe this, you cannot be saved, even though you talk about Jesus all the time and say you believe in Jesus. If you don’t believe in the Jesus who is the eternal God, who is self-existent, who has life in Himself, then you have another Jesus. And we’re warned in the New Testament, if you have another Jesus, you’re accursed. If you have another Jesus, you have another gospel, you’re cursed.

Altering the foundational realities of the identity of Jesus Christ is a damning act, very popular in false religions. In fact, it’s pretty much universal in false religions, developed by demons consistently across the board in false religions.

But John’s testimony is “In Him was life.” He wasn’t given life, He contains life in Himself. He’s the source of life. All that is created can be said – I’ll just give you a little way to distinguish these things. All that is created can be said to be ginomai, the Greek verb, becoming. All that is created is becoming, right? All the creation moves and shifts and alters and changes. We understand that. It’s in the process of becoming, becoming something other than what it is.

And if you want a clear illustration of that, look in the mirror tomorrow, take an old picture from ten years ago, and you’ll know you’re becoming. You may not like what you’re becoming, but it’s the way it is. Look at your house, and it is becoming. Look at your car, and it is becoming something other than it is or that you want it to be. Everything is becoming. The trees in your hard, the grass on the ground, the flowers – everything changes because the nature of created things is that they are not immutable, they are always becoming.

God is pure being, He doesn’t become anything other than He is. And when people come along – and they’ve been doing this under the name of evangelicalism recently – and start tampering with the essential, pure being of God by saying God lacks knowledge, God lacks information, He can’t know this, He can’t know that, He’s trying to react the best way He can to what’s going on in the world, seemingly to get God off the hook for the trouble in the world, so He won’t get blamed, they paint Him as ignorant, then you’ve got a – you’ve just struck a death blow at the essence of the nature of God, who is pure being.

Being is eternal and unchanging. Becoming is temporal and changing. This simple distinction of verbs distinguishes the Creator from the creation. This is the foundational reality of all realities. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” And God gave life to everything that has life, right? Gave life to everything that has life – everything – because life is in Him. Most important truth of all truths right there in Genesis 1, verse 1,

And that is a very most assaulted truth, I think, in many places in our world today, isn’t it? A massive effort to deny the creation account of Genesis 1. Get rid of the creation and you can get rid of the Creator. If you get rid of the Creator, you can live the way you want because there’s no recourse for your sin. The whole universe falls into the category of becoming because there was a point at which it didn’t exist. Before anything was created, there was only being, God, three in one, eternally self-existent.

In other words, He has life in Himself, unlike us. We all receive our life from parents and ultimately, of course, from Him. So when, in Exodus, the question is asked, “Who are you? Who are you?” He says this: “I am who I am.” “I don’t change. I am the eternally existing One.” That’s why Acts 17:28 says we live and move and have our being in Him. All life comes from Him. Who is this Jesus, this baby born in Bethlehem? Who is this? This is no other than the preexistent, coexistent, self-existent God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

There’s more to say about this in verse 4. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” He came into this world as that eternal life, as John calls Him. He came into the world as that eternal life, and when He arrived, the light was on. He even said, “I’m the light of the world,” John 8:12. “I’m the light. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness.”

What does that mean? There is certainly distinction between life and light. Life is one thing and light is something else. But here, they’re fused together. Life is the principle; light is simply an analogy. Light is simply the illustration. The life, the preexistent, coexistent, self-existent life of God in human form in Jesus became the light of men. In other words, when He showed up, the light went on. The light overcame the darkness of ignorance – the light overpowered the darkness of sin. It’s an analogy, an analogical way to speak.

The life was the light is the same construction, by the way, as the Word was God. As God and the Word are the same, light and life are the same. The light combines with life and manifests itself. It’s a metaphorical way of showing the impact of the arrival of Christ, the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Paul calls it in 2 Corinthians 4, shines.

When God appeared in the Old Testament on many occasions, He appeared as light, didn’t He? It’s called the Shekinah. Blazing light. We see that with Moses. We see that when He showed up at the tabernacle, when He showed up at the temple, when He led them by a pillar of light during the day and cloudy light and fire by night. In other words, the radiant reality and manifestation of God’s life shining through His Son was like light to a dark world. Jesus is the eternal life of God in human flesh, manifesting like light shining in the darkness of a sinful world.

And then he says in verse 5, “The light shines in the darkness.” There was nothing like this, ever. The Shekinah was wonderful when it came, but it came and it went, it came and it went, and Jesus came and stayed. The light shines in the darkness. There was nothing like it, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

I need to help you with the word “comprehend” in the NAS. I don’t know what version you have, but that is the Greek verb katalambanō, it’s a compound verb. Better to translate it did not overcome it – did not overcome it. The light did not overcome it. In fact, John actually tells us what happened in 1 John 2:8. He says, “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” As Christ came and as He began to appear and manifested Himself at the beginning of His ministry, the darkness began to be dispelled, and it could not overpower the light of His life.

The light of the life of God in Jesus drives the darkness away. Even a small candle will overwhelm the darkness of a room. Darkness can’t overcome light.

And he mentions in verses 6 to 8 that there was a man sent from God, a prophet, to give testimony, and that prophet was John the Baptist. He came to testify about the light. He pointed to Christ so that all might believe through Him. He wasn’t the light, but He came to testify about the light. Jesus came in to display the life of God like light in a dark world. Verse 9 says there was the true light which coming into the world – stop there for a moment. He was the Word made flesh. He was the light coming into the world. He was life manifest. And He enlightens every man who knows about Him, every man who ever heard Him, read of Him, saw Him was exposed to that light.

So the preexistent, coexistent, self-existent God – the Word – became flesh and dwelt among us, and the light of the glory of God was shining in the midst of a dark world. These are proclamations that John makes about Him being preexistent, coexistent, self-existent. Is there any proof for that? What is the evidence? There can only be one line of evidence, only one. It wouldn’t be His miracles, because the apostles did miracles. Some of the Old Testament prophets saw miracles. What is the proof that Jesus is the eternal God? There can be only one proof and that one proof is that He existed before time began.

If He’s the eternal God, He had to exist before anything existed. That is the only possible line of proof. Only one fact is necessary and John gives it in verse 3, here it is, “All things came into being through Him,” which means that He existed before they came into being, “and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being.” There is the sole evidence for the eternality of Jesus Christ. He is God because He existed before anything existed, before time existed. And all things that came into existence came into existence through Him and apart from Him nothing – the Greek would say, “Not even one thing came into existence that has come into existence.” Nothing.

The apostle Paul reiterates this, Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.” Talking about angelic beings. “All things have been created through Him and for Him, and He is before all things.” Hebrews 1:2, “And He made all things, and He upholds all things.” This is again profound and simple. All things came into being through Him. All things came into existence (a better way to translate that) through Him. The Creator of all that exists must Himself be uncreated.

He comes into the world, verse 9, shining, enlightening. The response is amazing, verse 10, “He was in the world and the world was made through Him.” There it is again. That’s how we know He’s God. The world was made through Him, the Creator, and the world didn’t know Him. “The world didn’t know Him? What are you talking about?” The world – the world, people in the world, not any limitation there. The world. They still don’t. The Gentile nations, the world, anybody and everybody.

And then he narrows it down in verse 11. “He came to His own,” and now he’s talking about Israel, His own, “my people,” as He refers to them repeatedly in the Old Testament, to His own people, the Jews, and those who were His own did not receive Him. Amazing story, isn’t it? The uncreated Creator of everything came into His creation, life came into the world and lit up the world, and the world didn’t know Him. And His own people, who had all the prophecies saying He was coming, didn’t receive Him. They killed Him, along with the nations, the Romans. And that’s the sad reality of sin.

But the first evidence for the deity of Christ is that He made the world. That’s material creation. That’s John’s testimony. Verse 3, “All things came into being through Him.” All things that exist exist because He brought them into existence,” and then again in verse 10, “the world was made through Him.” That’s the first line of testimony, material creation. The second line of testimony is creation as well, but this time spiritual creation – spiritual creation, verses 12 and 13.

The second line of evidence, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Do you notice some very important terms? “To become children and be born,” that’s a creative process.” Not only is the Word, the Lord Jesus, the Creator of the material universe, but He is the Creator of His own family through spiritual creation.

He is the One who creates the material world and He is the One who creates His own spiritual family, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God.” How did it happen? “They were born of God.” Not by any human means, not by blood, that means humanity, the will of the flesh, the will of man, it can’t happen. This is a spiritual creation. It’s what it means to be born from above. But by God this is done.

Not only, then, is the Word the Creator of the material realm but of the spiritual realm as well. We become His creation, His new creation, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.

How do we know that Jesus, then, is God in flesh? Because John gives us testimony that He preexisted, coexisted, self-existed with God as God, evidence He is the Creator of the material universe and of the family of God through spiritual creation.

There is Christmas, then, without the shepherds, without the manger or the stable, Joseph and Mary, and even a baby, and that’s the divine story.

Lots of people believe in the manger. Lots of people believe in the shepherds and the wise men and the star and the angel. The question is: Do you believe in the Son of God? That’s the question. Lots of people believe in the sentiments regarding the baby. In John 20, as John closes his gospel, he says, “These things that I’ve written to you, I’ve written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.

John says you have to believe. He says it in chapter 20, verse 31. I just read it. But he says it right here in our text in chapter 1, verse 12. “To those who believe in His name.” What do you mean, believe in His name? His name is who He is. All that He is. To believe in His name is not to believe that His name was Jesus, but to believe in the fullness of His person. Do you believe in the Christ that is revealed here in Scripture? Do you believe in Him savingly as your Redeemer, your only hope of salvation, your Lord, and your God? Let’s pray.

The story never loses its power. It never loses its profound nature, Lord. It is as ever fresh to us as if we had not heard it before. So wondrous, so unfathomable, and yet so simple that even a little child can understand.

Thank you for giving us such revelation, such majestic truth, and for the purpose that we might believe Jesus to be who He is, the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, died for us, and rose on our behalf to provide forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation.

This is the real story. This is the story we must understand. May it capture every heart to the point that we embrace fully the name of the Lord Jesus, the fullness of who He is, and what He did and what He provides for us. And we pray in His name. Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-422

VIDEO Trojan Horses

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Taught on Saturday, June 11, 2022

Stories are powerful. And Jesus knew it. Of all Jesus’ oral teachings recorded in Scripture, a full one-third are in storytelling form. Some of the world’s most enduring stories came from Jesus, a master storyteller who easily commanded crowds of thousands. More than fables or fairy tales, parables make spiritual truths relatable to people across every demographic of society. In this series, Nate Heitzig explores some of Jesus’ most profound parables.

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I. The Enemy Wants In 

II. If He Can’t Beat Us, He’ll Join Us 

III. The Best Way to Spot Fakes Is to Be Real

STUDY GUIDE

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Connect Group Guide: June 12, 2022

Speaker: Nate Heitzig

Teaching: “Trojan Horses”

Text: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Main Point
 This weekend’s parable of Jesus is about the Wheat and the Tares. Like trojan horses, the weeds are planted by the enemy in God’s good crop. If he cannot prevail openly, he will seek to come in disguise, creep into our midst in the secret of the night, only to open the gates and destroy us from the inside out — but God is at work and has a plan for His kingdom.

“The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” —Luke 10:2

Talk about It

1. The best countermeasure for spotting a fake is knowing the truth. How are you using God’s word to be more knowledgeable of the truth?   

2. God allows the counterfeit to grow alongside the good crop until His judgment. What can we learn from this? How can we be lovingly patient to help others grow in the mixed crop?       

3. Has your attention been on the momentary things? How can you kindle passion for the things of God which are monumentally important?         

4. The end of this story promises “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (v. 43). How are you living to represent the Father and His kingdom?       

5. Do you share your faith with others? If not, or rarely, why? 

“To defeat sin’s control in our lives, we need to move up from carnal self-indulgent living to the Spirit-empowered life where sinful things simply cannot survive.” —Nate Heitzig

Make It PracticalSanctification is God’s work in our lives to remove the sins which ensnare us. Spend time asking the Lord to create in you a clean heart, confessing sin and becoming more holy and set apart for His work.     God is looking for laborers. How will you represent Him this week by speaking the truth, telling someone that Jesus loves them, and sharing the Gospel?    Take action through a note, phone call, or a message, to remind a fellow believer of God’s love for them — remind them that He is a gracious Father.

Pray
Lord God, thank you for your long-suffering to wait for the harvest. Help me not to be distracted by the present world or false things but to have my heart set on Your truth. I want to grow in You to be holy and I ask for Your Spirit to help me to be cleansed and equipped for the work You have for me to do now. Please give me the boldness to proclaim Your love to others in word and in actions. Thank You for Your salvation! Amen.

Cross references: Psalm 51:10; Proverbs 18:13; Matthew 5:44, 26:49; Luke 6:35, 10:2; Romans 12:17; Acts 5:1-4, 8:9-24; 1 Corinthians 1:21, 3:1-4, 13:4-7; 2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 1:6; Ephesians 4:14

TRANSCRIPT

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Trojan Horses – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 – Nate Heitzig

  [MUSIC PLAYING]

  Welcome to Calvary Church. Did you know, out of all Jesus’s teachings recorded in scripture, one third are in storytelling form. Jesus was a master storyteller. And in this series, Pastor Nate explores some of his most profound parables, stories that make spiritual truths relatable to everyone. Here’s Pastor Nate.

  [MUSIC PLAYING] 

Good morning, church. It’s good to see you. We’ve missed you all week. It is so good to see your faces. I hope you know that we the staff, the pastors, the volunteers here at Calvary, we love you, and it is such a joy to be in church together.

  Psalm 133 verse 1 says, “behold how good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity.” And in a world that has disunity, a world divided, it is good to be in the church united, amen? That we come together regardless of language or tongue, race or creed, regardless of political affiliations. We find commonality under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, who rose from the dead. It is good to be together. If you believe that, give me a shout of praise.

  [AUDIENCE CHEERING] 

Turning your Bible to Matthew, chapter 13, we’re going to be continuing in our series Once Upon A Time this morning, as we’ve been looking at these parables, the kingdom parables of Matthew, chapter 13. We’re going to be in verses 24 to 30 this morning, as we look at the parable of the wheat and the tares, for a message that I’ve called this morning Trojan Horses.

  About 15 years ago, I had the chance the privilege to visit the ancient city of Troas, or Troy as most of you would know it. And in the ancient city of Troas, they have all the ruins, they have the walls. But they also have a recreation, a model of the mythological Trojan horse.

  Now, in every city, in every ancient city, the most important structure wasn’t the palace. The most important structure wasn’t the storehouses or the temple. Anyone want to take a guess at what the most important structure of every ancient city was?

  The walls.

  The walls. The walls were the most important part of every city. In the Book of Nehemiah, he journeys to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and the gates. It says in Nehemiah 1, his heart was grieved. He was sad because he got reports that the walls were torn down and the gates had been burned.

  See, the walls were the protection for the city. As a matter of fact, without the walls, there would be no city, because it would just be constantly ransacked and destroyed. In ancient times, destroying the walls and the gates was paramount to victory, because if you can’t get in, you can’t win.

  That’s an important principle we need to understand. It’s an important principle we need to recognize in our spiritual lives as well. If you can’t get in, you can’t win. But let me ask you a question. What do you do when the walls and the gates are too strong and you can’t break them down? What do you do when the external forces are impenetrable, and you can’t get inside the walls?

  Well, in The Odyssey by Homer, the Greeks, after an utterly fruitless ten-year battle to get into the city of Troy– they were trying to break down the walls, they were trying to barge their way inside, they couldn’t make their way in. The Trojans perceived that they are close to victory, and so the Greeks decide that they’re going to take a different tactic. They build a Trojan horse, and they leave it at the gates of the city, and they get in their ships, and they pretend that they have left in defeat.

  They get in all their boats. They go away. And the Trojans decide to take this beautiful wooden Trojan horse as a trophy of their victory inside their walls. But as we all know, the Greeks weren’t admitting defeat. And at night, as the city sleeps, the Greek forces creep out of the Trojan horse, and they open the gates to the city, and the Greek army enters in and destroys the city from the inside out, thus ending the war.

  Well, church, I have some good news and I have some bad news for you this morning. We have to remember that God is at work. God is gardening. As we saw last week, God is in the process of going through his garden, going through the world, and he is sowing seeds. He is doing some work. He is doing some gardening. He is pulling out some boulders. He is pulling out some weeds. He is ripping out some stumps. That’s good news.

  But guess what? Satan is also doing some gardening. For every boulder that God removes, Satan’s throwing some rocks in the soil. For every weed and thorn that Jesus plucks, Satan is there sowing some bad seed back into the garden. God has always and will always be at work within our lives, convicting us of sin, drawing us to repentance, preparing the soil, raising us up and bringing much fruit from our lives.

  But the devil is at work as well. The devil is trying to destroy everything that God plants. The devil is trying to bring in a counterfeit for every true work that God is doing. And this shows us that right up until the return of Jesus Christ, there is a spiritual battle that will be raging.

  And last week, we learned that Satan’s desire is to destroy the work of salvation before it ever has a chance to take root. That God is sowing seeds, trying to bring fruit and bring us to life, and Satan is there every step of the way trying to stop that from happening. But my question is, what happens when Satan can’t destroy the work that God is doing?

  What happens when the walls who are hearts, the fortifications to our life, the work that God has done is too strong for him to destroy? Well, today we see that Satan is in the business of using Trojan horses. If Satan can’t tear down the walls, Satan’s desire will be to come in disguise, to creep into our midst in the secret of night, only to open the gates and destroy us from the inside out.

  Today we’re going to see three things. We’re going to see that the enemy wants in. Number two, we’re going to see that if he can’t beat us, he’ll try to join us. And number three, we’re going to see that the best way to spot a fake is to be real.

  Let’s read our text Matthew, chapter 13, verse 24 to 30, as we look at this parable of the wheat and the tares. Verse 24. “Another parable he put forth to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.

  So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servant said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?

  But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares, you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, first, gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them. But gather the wheat into my barn.'”

  Let’s stop there. We’re going to read the interpretation of this parable in just a second. But the first point we see is that the enemy wants in. Now, the bulk of our message today will be on our second and third points. But this is a starting point that we need to understand before we can move on. And that is that the enemy wants in.

  As we notice last week, Satan in the lives of every believer first tries to trip people up by blinding them to the truth. If God is sowing good seed, we need to remember there’s snakes in the Garden. And Satan’s desire will be to come in and pull that seed away before we ever have a chance to hear it and let it change our lives.

  And if that doesn’t work, he attacks by persecution and difficulty. Remember that we need to look out for rolling stones. There’s things in our life that can creep into the garden in the soil that God is preparing, and can create shallow soil, so that while it might look like we spring up in life, those persecutions, those difficulties will stop it before it ever bears fruit.

  And these are relatively direct attacks. And if those don’t work, he tries to slowly choke out the person by the worries of life and the deceitfulness of riches. Remember, there be pirates. There are things that want to pirate your joy, pirate your peace, pirate your salvation, and squelch it out before you can ever truly bear forth fruit.

  Now, in this parable, we see a much more subtle and yet extremely effective attack. And that is the attack of imitation. And see, I love that this passage– we really need to read this parable as a continuation of the story that was before us last week. In the story before us last week, again, we have this master, this sower who is going through his garden and he is sowing seeds.

  And again, some seeds land on hard soil. Some seeds land on shallow soil. Some seeds land on thorny, worldly soil. And some seeds land on receptive soil. And these seeds that land on the receptive soil, this garden begins to grow, begins to bear fruit, begins to be prosperous. And it’s looking like a harvest is imminent.

  And so Satan, since his first attack didn’t work, since he wasn’t able to stop us from growing, he instead decides to come in our midst and use the game of imitation. And in this parable, we really see two different sowings. Again, we see the sowing of the good seed, with the purpose of gathering a harvest by the owner.

  But we also see an enemy, an enemy who comes in at night and sows a seed known as the tare, which historically would also be called a darnel or a cockle. Now, what’s important about these words, the tare, the darnel the cockle, this is a seed. It’s a true literal historical seed, that when it would spring up, when it would take root, what’s important about it is that it was almost identical in look to what the actual wheat was.

  It didn’t look like a weed. It didn’t look like thorns that we read about in our last parable. It looked exactly like wheat. It grew up, it sprouted up and had the same color. It was almost indistinguishable from the real thing to the naked eye.

  And we see that this enemy, as he sows this seed at night, he does so without any hope of harvesting this darnel. Rather, the sole goal of the enemy is to interfere with the wheat that has been planted by the master. That’s the sole goal. The only purpose is to interfere with the real thing.

  Realizing the seriousness– the slaves that we read about here in Matthew chapter 13, realizing this, they decide and they ask the master if the master wants them to go back through the field and uproot all the tares from the wheat. Which if we’re honest, sounds like a pretty good idea. Hey, it’s been planted there to interfere, let us remove it.

  But the master tells them, no. Because he points out that the plants would have already been so closely intertwined that the result was the wheat would be uprooted with the tare. Now, what does this all mean? Well, Jesus gives the interpretation in verse 36 to 43. So let’s read that together.

  And I want to point out something really unique and special in this passage. Look at verse 36. It says, “Then Jesus sent the multitudes away and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, ‘Explain to us the parables, the parable of the tares of the field.'”

  And I love this because the disciples have been with Jesus all day. And he’s been sharing parables. He’s been sharing truths. He’s been sharing these really incredible things that are life changing and impactful. And yet it shows that all day long the disciples have been wrestling with this story about the tares.

  All day long, they’ve been sitting there thinking, what was up with that story of the tares? What did Jesus mean when he was talking to us about the tares? And I love that they have the freedom to come to Jesus without any fear of being shamed, and they’re able to say, hey Jesus, can you explain to us what you meant in that parable of the tares?

  And what I love about this is sometimes in Christianity, we think we have to understand everything, and we think that we have to pretend we understand everything. If we don’t understand everything, that somehow we’re going to be shamed by believers, or shamed by God if we don’t get everything that’s written down in this book.

  But did you realize, God gives you the freedom to come to Him sometimes and say, hey Lord, I don’t understand what you’re saying. I don’t understand what your Word says. That doesn’t make sense to me. And the Bible says that God will reveal His Word to us. That’s one of the roles of the Holy Spirit. As we’re reading the Word of God, we ask God for an understanding and interpretation of His Word.

  One of the prayers that I pray every time before I start studying, every time before I get on stage, is a prayer that David prayed. I say, Lord, reveal wondrous truths to me from your Word. God reveals His truths to us as we read His Word. And it’s OK to let him know you don’t understand.

  It’s OK to come to another believer and say, hey, can you help me understand this verse, because I don’t quite get it. That’s OK. That’s good to do. And God will take time to reveal His Word. And that’s what he does to His disciples. In verse 37, He continues. It says, “He answered and said to them, ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.'”

  Again, we saw that last week. The field is the world. Also saw that last week. “The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom. But the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.

  Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

  If you’ve ever been told the Bible doesn’t talk about hell, read them this verse. It’s pretty graphic. It doesn’t just talk about separation. It says a furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. You know, I wonder if the disciples second guess themselves when they ask Jesus to explain this. I wonder if they said, man, Jesus, I wish I wouldn’t have had the understanding of that parable.

  But it’s important that we understand it. Again, we see in the parable of the sower that Jesus is the sower of the seed. We are the seed. The field is the world, owned by God, in which we are planted. And in this world, God is flinging his seed, which are his children into the world, to preach the gospel, to live godly lives, to bear much fruit, to grow in our understanding.

  But all the while, while Jesus is out there flinging His seed, trying to create a garden, the enemy wants into the garden, so that the enemy can steal, kill and destroy, and stop the master’s plan. And if he can’t knock down the walls, if he can’t lure you away with the temptation of the deceitfulness of riches, with the worries of life, with persecution, if he can’t pull away your understanding of the Word of God, then he will try to sneak in and destroy us from the inside out.

  Now, if you’re like me, it’s easy to let this make you a little bit paranoid. It’s easy to read this and say, so wait a second, you’re telling me everyone here isn’t my friend. There’s actually people in the church, there’s people in the fold who were placed there by Satan? There’s enemies inside the gates?

  Now, should this cause us to walk around with a suspicious look on our face as we look at everybody. Are you a tare? Are you a tare? Who’s a tare? Who’s a tare? Who’s wheat? Who’s friend? Who’s foe? Should we walk around like the Gospel Gestapo, with the light shining in people’s eyes. Hey, read me a Bible verse, not from there, from memory. Right now. Come on, I got to make sure who’s real and who’s fake.

  Is that what this should cause us to do? No. Jesus makes it clear, when his servants the angels come and say, hey Lord do you want us to go through the garden and pluck out the real from the fake? And Jesus says, no. Not until the end of the age until judgment day will I determine the real from the fake. Not until the final day will I go through and send you angels to pull out the real and pull out the fake and send them on their separate ways.

  Jesus makes it clear we won’t be able to distinguish or pass final judgment concerning the identity of who is real and who is fake. The danger is if we try, we can end up pulling out the genuine with the counterfeit. And I’ve seen this time and time in church. We believe it’s our job to be sin sniffers. We believe it’s our job to be Gospel Gestapo. We believe it’s our job to find out who is real and who is fake.

  And I’ve seen so many churches eat themselves from the inside out, because they end up damaging real believers who are sincere and love Jesus, because they’ve decided that it’s their mission to be the ones who are reaping. It’s their mission to be the ones who are expelling the fake. But it’s not. It’s not our job as the church to execute final judgment on anyone.

  While on Earth, Jesus himself would never lift a finger against his enemies. To those who falsely accused him and sent him to the cross, he said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. In Romans 12:17, it says, do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  Church, we aren’t told to lash out in hate against our enemies. But Jesus tells us to love your enemies. You know, no doubt, when we get to heaven there’s going to be three really big surprises. Number one, many of the people we expected to see won’t be there. Number two, many of the people we never expected to see will be there. And number three, we’re going to be there.

  Those are going to be the three big surprises when we get to heaven. And the reality is, until we get to heaven, until the final day of judgment, we don’t know who is real and who is fake. We can’t see into their hearts. We can’t see what God is doing. We can’t see that growth that He’s beginning to germinate. When someone comes forward, we don’t know if it was a sincere admission to accept Jesus Christ. We can hope it is. We can pray it is. But we don’t know.

  We can see somebody who stands in a pulpit and preaches week in and week out. We can see someone who serves faithfully every single week and assume that they’ve got it all under control, that they understand everything. And yet we don’t know. They might be faking it. We don’t know.

  Well, let’s look at the devil strategy here at our second point. If he can’t beat us, he’ll try to join us. Look at verse 25. And let’s continue. Verse 25. “But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, sir, did you not so good seed in your field?”

  You know, I like the idea that the angels maybe ask God that question as they look at the state of the church today. Hey God, did you do what you meant to do? How then does it have tares? If you did what you meant to do, how is it so messed up?

  “He said to them, an enemy has done this. The servant said to him, do you want us to go and gather them up? He said, no, lest you gather up the tares, you also uproot the wheat with them.” Satan is a crafty foe. Again, he tries outward attacks, and that works with some. With some people, when they get attacked with persecution, when they get attacked with the deceitfulness of riches, when they get attacked with the worries of life, they give up their faith just like we saw last week in that story.

  But for others of us most, likely most in this room, that persecution, those attacks, they don’t drive us from the cross. They drive us to the cross. It gives us a deeper conviction, a deeper determination. Cast all your cares upon Him, for who He cares for you.

  For a real believer, when Satan attacks with those outward blatant attacks, we easily can put up our guard. We can read the Word. We can rely upon our community and our connect group, and we can withstand those attacks. And so Satan changes his strategy, to something like, well, if you can’t beat them, join them.

  Church, we need to understand, Satan has his counterfeits with everything. Everything good that God creates, Satan has a counterfeit. Satan is like a flea market in Mexico. He’s got a whole bunch of fakes, a whole bunch of things that look like the real thing. But when you get at home, it breaks a week later.

  Satan has his counterfeits for everything God creates. Satan has a counterfeit for love. Satan has a counterfeit for marriage. Satan has a counterfeit for peace. He has a counterfeit for joy. He has a counterfeit for God’s plan for your life.

  He has a counterfeit everything. And his goal, once we’re firmly rooted in God, is to make us buy into the counterfeit instead of the real thing. His goal is imitation. He has counterfeit Christians. In 2 Corinthians 11:26, it says, “I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, and in danger from false brothers.”

  Paul identifies the issue as carnality in 1 Corinthian 3, he says, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes. For you are yet carnal, for there is strife and envying and divisions among you, showing your carnality.”

  Carnality is an arrested state of spiritual development. Throughout this message, I’m going to use the word carnal believers to refer to these tares. But I want to be clear. I’m not referring to them as followers. They’re believers in the sense that even the demons believe and tremble.

  See, there are those among us who claim to believe. If you ask them if they’re a Christian, they’ll say yes. If you ask them if they believe that Jesus died and rose again, they’ll say yes. They might be believers, but they are carnal believers. They are not followers. They are not allowing the word to change their life and change how they act, and change what they do. They are simply believers, carnal believers.

  And just as a baby is dependent on others to feed him and care for him, so the carnal person is dependent on others for growth. And this is OK to begin with. When we first come to Christ as babes in Christ, we need people to help us grow. We need people to build us up and tell us what is right and what is wrong.

  But what Paul is referring here is he says you are carnal even as babes. They’re not babes, but they’re still acting like babies. See, it’s OK to be a baby, but you have to grow up at some point. You have to grow in your knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, and you have to stop being a baby.

  The carnal believer is experience oriented. Everything always has to be exciting. The more lights, the more guests bands, the more programs, the more entertainment, the better. Now, those things aren’t bad. But the problem is the second you crack open the Bible, they shy away.

  They never develop a real hunger for the Word. They find the word of God and teaching boring. They always want shorter teachings, less Bible study. Carnal believers love Christian entertainment but they’re not committed to Bible study. They always have time for pleasure but they never have time for prayer.

  The carnal person tends to be a miserable person, because they can never have enough. And so they’re always bummed out. They’re always disappointed. We kind of talked about this idea last week. There’s never a joy of the Lord upon them, but they’re always miserable, and they’re always making others around them miserable, because the thing that they claim to have received, they haven’t really received.

  They haven’t received the thing that actually fills the void. They haven’t received the thing that brings them satisfaction. They claim they have, but they haven’t. And since they haven’t, they’re always miserable. They’re always bummed out.

  It doesn’t matter how much of the world we get. We can never be happy. Again, we talked about this last week, this idea that even if you have everything, that’s not going to make you happy. No, everything will just have you. You will be under the weight and the control of everything.

  And so the carnal believer gets and has all these things, but they’re not happy, because the only thing that can satisfy, a real relationship with Jesus, they haven’t truly received. Tom Brady in an interview with Steve Kroft said, “Why do I have these Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me?”

  I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, hey, man. This is what it is. I reached my goal my dream, my life. Me, I think, God, it’s got to be more than this. I mean, this can’t be all that it’s cracked up to be. And Steve Kroft responded by asking, “What’s the answer?” And Tom responded very simply, “I wish I knew. I wish I knew.”

  We know. It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s Jesus Christ that satisfies. It’s Jesus Christ that causes you to find purpose and belonging and a plan for your life. And too many people are looking in the wrong place. And not just outside the church. Too many people in the church are looking in the wrong place.

  When you know, you know. When you’ve experienced it, the true satisfaction of Jesus Christ, the water of life that quenches a thirst that you didn’t even realize you had. When you know, when you’ve experienced it, you know. But when you don’t know, you’re always complaining. You’re always bummed out. You’re always searching. You’re never satisfied.

  There are others who believe a counterfeit gospel. Galatians 1:6 says, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all.” I had the privilege several years back to preach at one of the largest Christian camps in the country.

  I’m not going to say where it is because I don’t want to defame them. I’ve since had a conversation with the camp director that was very profitable. But I had a chance to go out to California and preach at this camp to 1,500 high school students. And it was such a unique, fun time. The first two nights went so good.

  On the third night, they called it their salvation night, their decision night. And I did a Gospel message that I’ve delivered here at Calvary before. And I talked about sin. I talked about repentance. I talked about the grace and love of Jesus Christ. And I gave an opportunity for kids to accept Christ, and over 150 high school students said yes to Jesus. They gave their life to the Lord. They came in tears.

  They were so thankful for what God was doing in their life. And the camp director came to me and he was so excited. He said, man, that was incredible. That’s one of the biggest decisions we’ve ever seen at camp. And he was so thrilled to see real life change.

  Well, the next day, a bunch of the youth pastors came and complained to him, and said, we don’t use the word sin at our church. We don’t use the word repentance at our church. And so all these youth pastors asked the camp to ask me to take out any words of sin or repentance from my last message.

  And so another camp director came and he told me what was happening. He said, hey, if you have sin or repentance in your message, could you take that out or do a different message? And I said no. And he said, well, then can you go home early? And I said, I’m ready to see my kids, bye.

  And I got on the plane. And as I was flying home, I was just reminded of that passage, “In the last days, men will hoard up for themselves teachers because of the itching of their ears.” See, people who believe a counterfeit gospel, the real gospel is offensive to them.

  Carnal believers are easily deceived. This explains why the prosperity gospel has flourished so much in our culture today. A couple of years ago, my wife and I were watching TV and there was a televangelist who was getting in some trouble on TV because he had been asking for $54 million to get himself a new jet. And he was on TV saying, I need $54 million to get a new jet. God told me I need this new jet because he doesn’t want me flying in a big metal tube with a bunch of other demons, referring to humans.

  When a pastor’s referring to the people he’s supposed to be witnessing to as demons, there’s a problem. And we’re watching this. My wife says, again, it’s obvious this guy’s a kook. It’s obvious he’s crazy. You’re like, what is this guy talking about? This is insane.

  And yet my wife said, why is it that people buy into it? Why is it that people give him money? I mean, you would think that any rational Christian would hear what this guy is saying and saying that is ridiculous, and that is not true. And I said, honey, the difference is you know the Bible. The difference is you read the Bible.

  You know the real thing. And so when you see something fake, you can spot the difference and say, that is not true. But carnal believers, the tares, they just believe anything that they hear. If a pastor says it and says, God told me, or the Bible says, they accept it as true.

  And this answers the question as to why so many bad churches are growing. Let me tell you something. In our culture, we have a misrepresentation. Growth does not mean health. Growth does not mean blessing. It’s not because God is blessing them. It’s because they found what appeals to carnal believers.

  There are many churches today that will have awesome programs, great music, entertaining videos, a really strong political message that riles you up, but they will never teach the Bible. They might hint to it. They might reference it occasionally to prove one of their points. But they aren’t teaching the full counsel of God’s word. Ephesians 4:14 says “That we henceforth be no longer children, tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine, but grow into the full measure and completeness found in Christ.”

  Another sign of carnal believers is that they’re prone to division and envy. Again, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, “There is strife and envying, divisions among you, showing your carnality.” If Satan can get us fighting instead of evangelizing, he’s won. And so he’ll sow the tares in our midst so that they will constantly be starting arguments and starting these divisive conversations, so that we’re not doing our job.

  And we get so focused on arguing with each other that we stop evangelizing, and seeing new people get saved, new wheat take root, and new health and growth happen. They blame others. They’re fault finders, because they’re personally frustrated. They want other people on their side. And so they will mold and manipulate scripture to fit their needs and their arguments.

  In the last days we’re even told that there will be a counterfeit Christ that Satan will bring. And all through the Bible, we see this pattern of infiltration and the compromise that follows. When the children of Israel leave Egypt, they’re joined by the mixed multitude, a group of spiritual freeloaders. And it’s actually the mixed multitude that begin the complaining in the desert that riles the rest of God’s people up into thinking that they’ve been abandoned and lusting after the things that they left behind.

  It’s the mixed multitude that starts that, and then causes the real ones to question. Ananias and Sapphira appear to not only be believers, but super spiritual ones. And yet Peter said, “Satan has filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.”

  And this sin still exists in the church today. It’s when people come to church and go through all the motions, look really spiritual, but they don’t mean it in their heart. Jesus did a similar thing in his betrayal of Jesus. It says that when Judas came to Jesus to identify him, he smothered him in kisses, making his act of betrayal all the more despicable.

  Cicero said, “Of all villainy, there is none more base than that of the hypocrite, who at the moment he is most false takes care to appear most virtuous.” Simon the sorcerer is another example in the New Testament. He dazzled people with his witchcraft and his magic. And when Philip came to town, Simon appeared to have a conversion. It says Simon himself believed, and was baptized. But Simon still wanted the attention of people.

  And when he saw the power of the Holy Spirit come upon people, he tried to pay Peter to get that same power. And Peter said, “May your money perish with you because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money. ” This just shows us all these stories, that contact with holy things, if it does not convert, it will harden the heart.

  The light of Jesus Christ, if it doesn’t convert the listener, it will plunge them into deeper darkness. Again, we talked about last week this premise that we are so privileged to live in a country that we get access to the Word of God, to hear the Word of God, to hear biblical truth, and to hear teaching. But with that privilege comes responsibility.

  Because if we spend our days reading the Word, going to church, but it doesn’t actually change our hearts, it will harden our hearts. Yes, there are tares among the wheat. The mixed multitude are among us. The Ananiases and Sapphiras, the Judases and the Simons, the satanic plants that are put there to undermine the work of God.

  And we can’t spot the difference in others. But you know what? We can spot it in ourselves. Perhaps you’re living in this carnal dilemma right now. To defeat sin’s control in our lives, we need to move up from carnal self-indulgent living to the spirit empowered life, where all these sinful things simply can’t survive.

  If you try to battle your carnality and sin by yourself, you’re going to lose. The only way you can defeat the carnality in your life is to focus not on sin, but focus on Jesus Christ, the sin forgiver. Focus on what we’ve been redeemed to. Focus on getting back up after we’ve fallen. Rise up, and the things that are bringing you down will naturally fall off.

  And this leads directly into our last point, and that is that the best way to spot the fake is to be real. Look at verse 29 to 30. “But he said, no, lest while you gather up the tares, you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. And at the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, ‘first gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”

  Jesus makes it clear that the separation of the wheat and the tares isn’t going to happen until the end. That until the end, until the judgment day, they’re not going to be separated. Until then, we exist side by side, breathing the same air, enjoying the same sunshine and rain, eating the same food, attending the same schools, working the same jobs in the same offices, living in the same neighborhoods. And yes, attending the same churches.

  We exist side by side. This has always and will always be the case. But we need to understand, our objective isn’t to weed them out. Our job isn’t to weed them out and find out who is real and who is fake. Our job, first and foremost, is to make sure that we are the real thing.

  The best way to spot a fake is to simply be real. Just be wheat. Just grow. Just be planted where God has you, and grow in your knowledge and understanding of God’s word, realizing yes, there is coming a day when the master is going to send out his reapers, and He’s going to distinguish the real from the fake. And those who are real will be gathered together in the barn, and we’re going to have the biggest barn party you’ve ever seen.

  But until that day, let’s just be wheat. Let’s just grow, and as we grow, let us have fruit that falls from our limbs and makes more wheat. Our job isn’t to get rid of the tares. Our job is to make more wheat. If Jesus didn’t tell us that we wouldn’t be able to spot the wheat from the tares, how would you determine who’s fake and who’s real?

  If your theology matches mine. If you go to the church that I go to. If you give this amount of money to these organizations. If you worship in this way. If you vote for these politicians. We’ve gotten so caught up in the past six years of our world and what we’re against. It seems like we’re constantly talking about the tares.

  In the news, we’re being told who and what to hate. Cancel culture has affected some of us so much than how we’ve become guilty of the same thing. We’ve become more known for what we’re against than what we’re for. And I’m not saying that what’s happening in our world isn’t important. It is important, and we should be involved. We are a preserving agent, the Bible tells us, in this world.

  What I’m saying, and what I’m asking is has your attention to what is momentarily important diminished your passion for what is monumentally important? Are we more inclined to protest than we are to pray? Are we more interested in who’s in the White House than who’s in God’s house? Are we more interested in boycotts than the salvation of our family and friends?

  Because we can end up spending all of our time trying to spot the tares and talking about the tares that we forget about the wheat. Let’s focus on the wheat. Have we left our first love? Some of us spend so much time looking at others that we forget to ever look at ourselves.

  Look at how intolerant David was towards the person that Nathan spoke of in his story. David wanted to kill him. He was so angry. Why was he so angry? Because he had a huge log in as eye. That’s why he was angry. He had a log in as eye.

  Why was he so harsh in dealing so brutally with the sin that he heard about? Because you’re always harshest with the sin that’s lurking in your own heart. David prayed a prayer that every single Christian needs to pray every single day. Create in me a clean heart, oh God. Then will I teach transgressors your ways.

  Christian, can we pray that prayer every day we wake up? Lord, I know there’s a lot going on in this world. I know I’m going to watch the news and open Instagram and be triggered instantly. I know there’s just a lot of chaos, there’s a lot of tares. But Lord, today create in me a clean heart.

  Sadly, there are those who thrive on condemning others. Their attitude is the opposite of what a true believer should manifest, that love believes the best of every person. This person rarely knows the facts. And so without getting all the facts, they draw conclusions and they pass judgment.

  Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who gives an answer before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” This is also a sign of carnality. And the best way to spot a fake is to be real, and to be real we must first confess our own sin. Often, the sin of self-righteousness and a condemning spirit.

  All too often because of our actions, Christians are perceived in this world as being negative. If we don’t approve of a certain movie, we boycott it. If we don’t like a certain store, we picket it. If we don’t agree with what’s happening in society, we organize a march.

  We spend all of our time writing blogs, recording videos, making signs and writing posts about what we’re against. But meanwhile, in the church pastors are falling out of ministry every day because of a myriad of moral sins. The divorce rate in the church is nearly identical to the divorce rate in the world.

  We decry sexual perversion, and yet Barna states there’s virtually no difference in the monthly porn use of non-Christians, 65%, versus Christian, 64%. We are preaching holiness. We are shouting to the world, be holy. But are we holy?

  Are we making ourselves holy? Instead of looking at others, let’s start looking at ourselves. And the more that we look at ourselves and focus on our personal holiness, the more we’ll begin to love others, and God will give us a burden for the lost.

  This is what revival looks like. If we can get this, seeing people excited and passionate about the simple Gospel, not fighting and bickering about specific doctrines, seeing Christians more focused on how to make others feel comfortable, instead of how to make themselves feel more comfortable, focusing on our own character, our own motives and our own application of God’s word instead of others.

  Because the minute we become so comfortable in our pews that we forget about people, the church will perish. We are speaking and filling our social media pages with what we’re against, when we should be speaking and filling our social media pages with the Gospel of Christ.

  What if we stopped retweeting news articles, and instead we tweeted out the simple Gospel of Jesus every day, and told the world, Jesus loves you. He died for your sins. And if you accept His sacrifice, you can live in freedom from your sin with the knowledge that you’re going to heaven. What if that was what the church was messaging to the world?

  The best way to fight against the tares is to make more wheat, sow more seeds. Preaching the gospel and winning others to Him by grace and love is the answer. Do you spend more time arguing doctrine or politics with people on social media than sharing your faith with others?

  Luke 10:2 says, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers.” God is looking for and even commanding you and I to be laborers who are willing to plant and water spiritual seeds in the lives of those who don’t yet know Jesus.

  And it’s easy for us to cop out from our calling and say, well, I’ll just live it, and I’ll leave the preaching to others. Imagine if I try that with my wife and said, you know what? I’m not going to say I love you anymore. I’m just going to live it. I hope that’s enough. That wouldn’t last very long. We need to verbalize and vocalize the true word of God, the good news that changed you. Your job is to proclaim it, to share it, to communicate it.

  Christianity Today conducted a poll as to why more believers don’t share their faith, and this is what they found. 89% of Christians agree that faith in Christ is the only way to salvation. 87% say that every Christian is responsible for evangelism, and yet only 55% of all Christians claimed to have shared their faith in Christ with a non-Christian during the past 12 months.

  That means half of Christians haven’t talked about Jesus to another person in a year. That should scare us. Even more scary, 95% of Christians have never led another person to Jesus. The laborers are few.

  Imagine if we started sharing the love of Jesus and making it our personal mission to lead others to faith in him. Imagine how our church and our city and our state and our country would change. If we can make real believers, that’s going to change politics. If we can make real believers, that’s going to change the laws that are getting passed.

  If we can make real believers, that’s going to change our communities and bring dads back into the house. If we can change the world with the love of Jesus, that will bring us the answer we’re all looking for. We’ve been looking in the wrong place. The answer is with Jesus.

  And you say, well, I just want to be sensitive. People don’t want to hear it. So I don’t want to say it. Look, people either in this life or the next must be confronted with the fact that they are sinners separated from a holy God, and there is salvation in no other name than the name of Jesus Christ. At some point in this life or the next, they will be confronted with that truth. And if you don’t do it now, who will?

  You say, well it’s just so offensive. It’s going to be more offensive when they stand before Jesus on judgment day and hear, depart from me, I never knew you, than it will be to sit with you across a coffee table and hear, Jesus loves you. He has a wonderful plan for your life. He died for your sins, and if you accept him, He can forgive you and give you eternal life. That is not offensive. That is good news to those who receive it.

  And this is what Connect Groups fight against. It takes what we hear and it gives us an opportunity to apply it, and to change us. It turns us from just spectators, and it turns us back into participators. We’re no longer just consuming, we’re communing. We’re no longer just customers, we’re disciples. Because the longer we immerse ourselves in religion, the more prone we are to forget what makes it work in the first place.

  We become so caught up in events and services and theology and ministry that we forget the why. And I’ve seen this– my heart’s been broken coming out of COVID. I think this has happened so much for two years. We’ve sat on our couches consuming, just consuming, watching more content, swapping back and forth to this preacher, that preacher.

  I don’t like what he said. I’ll listen to this guy instead. Just consuming, consuming, consuming. We’ve been filling up. We’ve been sitting, but we haven’t been doing anything. We’ve been getting filled, but we’re not pouring. Church, it’s time to start pouring. It’s time to make more wheat. It’s time to sow more seeds.

  It’s time to start looking at our lives and saying to God, Lord, make me holy as you are holy. It’s time for us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, wholly and accept, instead of sacrificing others on the altar of our opinions.

  It’s time for us to grow in the knowledge and the truth of Jesus Christ, so that we can be presented acceptable to the Lord. And as we grow, it’s time that we start telling people and evangelizing the truth of God’s work. And you say, well, I’ll just bring people to church. They can hear it there. You’re the church.

  The church’s job is to train you up in every good work, and your job is to evangelize and watch people’s lives change. We build up so that you can go out. And don’t just hear this message and say, well, that was a really good message. That was really convicting. No. This week, every single person in this room, I challenge you, share the love of Jesus with at least one person.

  Tell one person about Jesus this week. Don’t be one of the statistics. Don’t be one of the 55% of the 95%. This week, tell someone about Jesus. How many people are you going to see this week, 100? Tell one of them that Jesus loves them and died for their sins. And watch as God begins to change this place and change our city, as we take this call personally.

  I want to close with a story. The expression face the music is said to have originated in Japan. A person of great influence and wealth demanded that he be given a place on the orchestra because he wanted to perform before the emperor. But the problem was that he wasn’t a musician. He couldn’t play an instrument. So you see the problem. Someone wanted to join the orchestra who doesn’t know how to play music.

  He was given a flute. The conductor agreed to let him sit on the second row of the orchestra, even though he couldn’t read or play. And when the concert would begin, he’d raise his instrument. He’d pucker his lips, and he’d sit there for an hour and move his fingers. But no notes were coming out.

  He went through all the motions of playing, but he never made a sound. This deception continued for two years, until one day a new conductor took over and told the orchestra that he wanted to audition each player personally. Well, one by one these musicians performed in his presence, until it was the flutist’s turn.

  And you can imagine, he was frantic with worry. He pretended to be sick. He came with all these reasons why he couldn’t do it. But his lies had caught up with him. The pretender had to ultimately admit he was fake. He couldn’t face the music.

  One day, Christian, we will stand before God himself. It’ll be time to play the music. And although we might have gone through all of our lives doing a good job fooling others in the church, you will have to face the music. How will you play? I challenge you, let us play beautiful music for the Lord. Let us spend our lives living our lives as a sweet smelling aroma to our Savior in heaven.

  Let us focus on our own personal holiness. Let us let God change our lives from the inside out, and as He changes our lives, let’s use His word to change others’ lives. And then let’s all sit back in amazement as He changes this world around us. Amen?

  Thank you so much for joining us for this message from Calvary Church. We would love to know how this message impacted you. Share your story with us. Email mystory@calvarynm.church. And if you’d like to support this Bible teaching ministry with a financial gift, visit calvarynm.church/give.

https://calvarynm.church/connectwithskip/teachings/#/series/322/sermon/4683

VIDEO Independence Day “GREATEST REVOLUTION that has ever taken place IN THE WORLD’S HISTORY”, Ronald Reagan

July 3, 2022 Don Federer

King George III ruled the largest empire that planet earth had ever seen.

Download as PDF …

The Declaration of Independence was signed JULY 4, 1776.

It listed 27 reasons why Americans declared their independence from the 38-year-old King:

“… He has made judges dependent on his will alone …

… He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

… He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies …

… To subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution …

… For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us …

… For imposing taxes on us without our consent …

… For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of trial by jury …

… For … establishing … an arbitrary government …

… For … altering fundamentally the forms of our governments …

… He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

… He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny …

… He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us,

and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

American Minute-Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred

33-year-old Thomas Jefferson’s original rough draft of the Declaration contained a line condemning slavery, as the King of England was part owner of the Royal African Company:

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself … in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither …

… suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold.”

Unfortunately, a few delegates from southern states objected to this line.

Since everyone was in a panic as the British were invading New York and the city was in flames, and since the Declaration needed to pass unanimously, the line in Jefferson’s original draft condemning slavery was tragically set aside.

John Hancock, the 39-year-old President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration first, reportedly saying “the price on my head has just doubled.”

Next to sign was Secretary, Charles Thomson, age 47.

70-year-old Benjamin Franklin said:

“We must hang together or most assuredly we shall hang separately.”

The Declaration referred to God:

“Laws of Nature and of NATURE’S GOD …”

“All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights ..”

“Appealing to the SUPREME JUDGE OF THE WORLD for the rectitude of our intentions …”

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

This was revolutionary, as kings did not believe everyone was created equal.

They believed they were created extra special.

Their belief was called “the divine right of kings,” namely, that the Creator gives rights to the king and he dispenses them at his discretion to whoever he wishes.

The Declaration of Independence bypassed the King, declaring that the Creator gives rights directly to each individual person.

Many of the 56 signers sacrificed their prosperity for their posterity.

Of the Signers:

11 had their homes destroyed;

5 were hunted and captured;

17 served in the military; and

9 died during the war.

27-year-old George Walton signed, and at the Battle of Savannah was wounded and captured.

Signers Edward Rutledge, age 27, Thomas Heyward, Jr., age 30, and Arthur Middleton, age 34, were made prisoners at the Siege of Charleston.

38-year-old signer Thomas Nelson had his home used as British headquarters during the siege of Yorktown. Nelson reportedly offered five guineas to the first man to hit his house.

Signer Carter Braxton, age 40, lost his fortune during the war.

42-year-old signer Thomas McKean wrote that he was “hunted like a fox by the enemy, compelled to remove my family five times in three month.”

46-year-old Richard Stockton signed and was dragged from his bed at night and jailed.

50-year-old signer Lewis Morris had his home taken and used as a barracks.

50-year-old signer Abraham Clark had two sons tortured and imprisoned on the British starving ship Jersey.

More Americans died on British starving ships than died in battle during the Revolution.

53-year-old signer Rev. John Witherspoon had his son, James, killed in the Battle of Germantown.

Miracles in American History

60-year-old signer Philip Livingston lost several properties to British occupation and died before the war ended.

63-year-old signer Francis Lewis found out that the British plundered his home and carried away his wife, Elizabeth, putting her in prison.

The British wanted to make an example of her, so they denied her a change of clothes, a bed, and gave her nothing but the most meager food. She was treated so harshly that she died shortly after being released.

65-year-old signer John Hart had his home looted and had to remain in hiding, dying before the war ended.

Miracles in American History: Volume TWO

41-year-old John Adams wrote to his wife of the Declaration:

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary Festival.

It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by SOLEMN ACTS OF DEVOTION TO GOD ALMIGHTY.

It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

Gustave de Beaumont, a contemporary of Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote in Marie ou L’Esclavage aux E’tas-Unis, 1835:

“i have seen a meeting of the Senate in Washington open with a prayer, and the anniversary festival of the Declaration of Independence consists, in the United States, of an entirely religious ceremony.”

John Adams continued in his letter to his wife:

“You will think me transported with enthusiasm but I am not.

I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.

Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means.

And that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.”

When 54-year-old Samuel Adams signed the Declaration, he said:

“We have this day restored THE SOVEREIGN to whom all men ought to be obedient.

He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”

34-year-old James Wilson signed the Declaration. He later signed the Constitution and was appointed to Supreme Court by George Washington. James Wilson stated in 1787:

“After a period of 6,000 years since creation, the United States exhibit to the world THE FIRST INSTANCE of a nation … assembling voluntarily … and deciding … that system of government under which they and their posterity should live.”

Senator Daniel Webster stated in 1802:

“Miracles do not cluster, and what has HAPPENED ONCE IN 6,000 YEARS, may not happen again.

Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”

John Jay was President of the Continental Congress, 1778-1779, and later nominated by George Washington to be the First Chief Justice of Supreme Court. John Jay wrote in 1777:

“The Americans are THE FIRST PEOPLE whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of … choosing the forms of government under which they should live. All other constitutions have derived their existence from violence or accidental circumstances …

Your lives, your liberties, your property, will be at the disposal only of your Creator and yourselves.”

Yale President Ezra Stiles, 1788:

“All the forms of civil polity have been tried by mankind, except one: and that seems to have been reserved in Providence to be realized in America.”

At the time of the Revolutionary War, nearly every other country on Earth was ruled by a king.

Dr. Pat Robertson wrote in America’s Dates with Destiny, 1986:

“On September 17, 1787, the day our Constitution was signed, the absolute monarch Ch’ien Lung, emperor of the Manchu (or Ch’ing) Dynasty, reigned supreme over the people of China … Revolts were put down by ruthless military force.

In Japan the shogun (warriors) of the corrupt Tokugawa chamberlain Tanuma Okitsugu exercised corrupt and totalitarian authority over the Japanese.

In India, Warren Hastings, the British Governor of Bengal, had successfully defeated the influence of the fragmented Mogul dynasties that ruled India since 1600.

Catherine II was the enlightened despot of all the Russias.

Joseph II was the emperor of Austria, Bohemia and Hungary.

For almost half a century, Frederick the Great had ruled Prussia.

Louis XVI sat uneasily on his throne in France just years away from revolution, a bloody experiment in democracy, and the new tyranny of Napoleon Bonaparte.

A kind of a constitutional government had been created in the Netherlands in 1579 by the Protestant Union of Utrecht, but that constitution was really a loose federation of the northern provinces for a defense against Catholic Spain …

What was happening in America had no real precedent, even as far back as the city-states of Greece.

The only real precedent was established thousands of years before by the tribes of Israel in the covenant with God and with each other.”

Check out historical resources like America’s God and Country!

President Theodore Roosevelt stated in 1903:

“In NO other place and at NO other time has the experiment of government

of the PEOPLE,

by the PEOPLE,

for the PEOPLE,

been tried on so vast a scale as here in our own country.”

President Calvin Coolidge stated in 1924:

“The history of government on this earth has been almost entirely … rule of force held in the HANDS OF A FEW.

Under our Constitution, America committed itself to power in the HANDS OF THE PEOPLE.”

A King has “subjects” who are subjected to his will.

The word “citizen” is Greek, and it means a co-ruler, a co-regent, a co-king.

America’s founders, for all their faults, gave a present to all future citizens, namely, each person gets to be king of their own life, and all citizens together are the co-kings of the country!

A republic is where the people are king, ruling through representatives.

America is a republic where WE THE PEOPLE get to rule ourselves.

Who is the King in America? And Who are the Counselors to the King? An Overview of 6,000 Years of History & Why America is Unique

When someone protests the flag, what they are effectively saying, is, that they no longer want to be king.

They protest this system where they participate in ruling themselves.

They want someone else to rule their life.

President Ford stated in Rock Hill, SC, October 19, 1974:

“What they don’t tell us when they propose all these benefits that they are going to give you from our Government …

that a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have.”

Ronald Reagan opened the Ashbrook Center, Ashland, Ohio, May 9, 1983:

“From their own harsh experience with intrusive, overbearing government, the Founding Fathers made a great breakthrough in political understanding:

They understood that it is the excesses of government, the will to power of one man over another, that has been a principle source of injustice and human suffering through the ages …”

Reagan continued:

“The Founding Fathers understood that only by MAKING GOVERNMENT THE SERVANT, not the master, only by positing SOVEREIGNTY in THE PEOPLE and not the state can we hope to protect freedom …

In 1776, the source of government excess was the crown’s abuse of power and its attempt to suffocate the colonists with its overbearing demands.

In our own day, the danger of too much state power has taken a subtler but no less dangerous form.”

John Adams wrote in his notes on A Dissertation on Canon & Feudal Law, 1765:

“I always consider the settlement of America … as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for … the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.”

John Jay noted in 1777:

“This glorious revolution … distinguished by so many marks of the Divine favor and interposition … and I may say miraculous, that when future ages shall read its history they will be tempted to consider a great part of it as fabulous …

The many remarkable … events by which our wants have been supplied and our enemies repelled … are such strong and striking proofs of the interposition of Heaven, that our having been hitherto delivered from the threatened bondage of Britain ought, like the emancipation of the Jews from Egyptian servitude.”

Franklin Roosevelt stated in 1939:

“Rulers … increase their power over the common men. The seamen they sent to find gold found instead the way of escape for the common man from those rulers …

What they found over the Western horizon was not the silk and jewels of Cathay … but MANKIND’S SECOND CHANCE — a chance to create a new world after he had almost spoiled an old one …

The Almighty seems purposefully to have withheld that SECOND CHANCE until the time when men would most need and appreciate liberty.”

Ronald Reagan stated 1961:

“In this country of ours took place THE GREATEST REVOLUTION that has ever taken place IN THE WORLD’S HISTORY — Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another …

Here for THE FIRST TIME in all the THOUSANDS OF YEARS of man’s relation to man … the founding fathers established the idea that you and I had within ourselves the GOD-GIVEN RIGHT AND ABILITY to DETERMINE OUR OWN DESTINY.”

Donald Trump stated July 3, 2020:

“Each of you lives in the most magnificent country in the history of the world …

Our Founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity.

No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America. And no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation.

It was all made possible by the courage of 56 patriots who gathered in Philadelphia 244 years ago and signed the Declaration of Independence.

They enshrined a divine truth that changed the world forever when they said: “All men are created equal” …

Our Founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights — given to us by our Creator in Heaven. And that which God has given us, we will allow no one, ever, to take away — ever …

Seventeen seventy-six represented the culmination of thousands of years of western civilization …”

Trump explained the left’s “identity theft” of America’s history:

“And yet … there is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure.

Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.

Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.

Many of these people have no idea why they are doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing. …”

He added:

“One of their political weapons is “Cancel Culture” — driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees.

This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America …”

SOCIALISM – the Real History from Plato to the Present: How the Deep State Capitalizes on Crises to Consolidate Control

Trump spoke further:

“We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children, end this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life.

In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.

If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. It’s not going to happen to us.

… Make no mistake: this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.

In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress …

They are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage …

The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats, in every case, is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions …

… Our children are taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that were villains.

The radical view of American history is a web of lies — all perspective is removed, every virtue is obscured, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted, and every flaw is magnified until the history is purged and the record is disfigured beyond all recognition ..

No movement that seeks to dismantle these treasured American legacies can possibly have a love of America at its heart …

No person who remains quiet at the destruction of this resplendent heritage can possibly lead us to a better future …”

He continued:

“The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice. But in truth, it would demolish both justice and society.

It would transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance, and it would turn our free and inclusive society into a place of repression, domination, and exclusion …

We will not be silenced … We declare that the United States of America is the most just and exceptional nation ever to exist on Earth …

Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and we understand — that these values have dramatically advanced the cause of peace and justice throughout the world …

We believe in equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion, and creed.

Every child, of every color — born and unborn — is made in the holy image of God.

We want free and open debate, not speech codes and cancel culture … We only kneel to Almighty God …”

President Trump concluded:

“Those who seek to erase our heritage … seek to dissolve the bonds of love and loyalty that we feel for our country, and that we feel for each other.

Their goal is not a better America, their goal is the end of America …

Our opponents would tear apart the very documents that Martin Luther King used to express his dream, and the ideas that were the foundation of the righteous movement for Civil Rights …

It is time for our politicians to summon the bravery and determination of our American ancestors ..

It is time to plant our flag and protect the greatest of this nation, for citizens of every race, in every city, and every part of this glorious land. For the sake of our honor, for the sake of our children …

Americans must never lose sight of this miraculous story … We will raise the next generation of American patriots.”

British Edwardian writer G.K. Chesterton stated in “What is America”:

“America is the ONLY NATION IN THE WORLD that is founded on creed.

That creed is set forth … in the Declaration of Independence …

that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice …

It certainly does condemn … atheism, since it clearly names the CREATOR as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived.”

Calvin Coolidge stated July 5, 1926:

“THE PRINCIPLES … which went into the Declaration of Independence … are found in … THE SERMONS … of the early colonial clergy …

They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.

They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the Divine image.”

Henry Cabot Lodge, who filled the role of the first Senate Majority Leader, warned the U.S. Senate in 1919:

“The United States is the world’s best hope …

Beware how you trifle with your marvelous inheritance … for if we stumble and fall, freedom and civilization everywhere will go down in ruin.”

Download as PDF … Independence Day – “GREATEST REVOLUTION that has ever taken place IN THE WORLD’S HISTORY”-Ronald Reagan

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https://americanminute.com/blogs/todays-american-minute/independence-day-greatest-revolution-that-has-ever-taken-place-in-the-worlds-history-ronald-reagan-american-minute-with-bill-federer

Debbie D’Souza Sings America the Beautiful


VIDEO EYEBALL To EYEBALL, We Stared Down Terror

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II
30 April 2013

I am sure that by now you have seen many pictures and reports of the cowardly Patriot’s Day bombing at this year’s Boston Marathon. At this point we are not sure how many people may have been involved; however we know they meant us harm. They meant to instill fear in us and disorient us and they failed in those goals.

Tragically, innocent people lost their lives or were injured over their senseless acts of terror. Our prayers continue to be lifted up for the injured, the families of the killed and injured and those who helped or are helping the recoveries and investigations.

In order for the cowardly bombers to succeed we would have become weak-kneed and submitted to their demands. Doesn’t this sound like a schoolyard bully?

We do not have a feeling of general unease or nervousness that may be triggered by perceiving of oneself as being vulnerable in some way, or having a sense of vulnerability or instability which threatens our self-image or ego. Instead we’ve gained a new resolve to root out the cancer of terror trying to invade our society.

We now know that political correctness had some cause in inflicting injury upon us. We now know that certain words and phrases were not allowed to be used by those questioning suspects and others even before the bombings. That is like asking a boxer to enter the ring against a fully prepared opponent while having one hand tied behind his back. Unfortunately, there are some politicians who are weak-kneed and trying to infest our society with a culture of fear. Fortunately, our Republic provides us the ballot box to remove the cancerous politicians.

You have a choice: hang your head in worry and develop a medical condition of a mental illness of anxiety, depression, or worse; OR do what we did on Patriot’s Day and go eyeball to eyeball and stare down terror.

Many veterans went eyeball to eyeball and stared down terror and overcame their fears as they served in combat.

Many first responders went eyeball to eyeball and stared down terror and overcame their fears as they helped the injured just after the Patriot’s Day bombing at the Marathon.

Many law enforcement personal went eyeball to eyeball and stared down terror and overcame their fears as they dealt with the cowardly Patriot’s Day bombers just after the bombing at the Marathon.

The courage that veterans, first responders, and law enforcement personal exhibited was not an absence of fear, rather it was them facing their fears and acting in spite of their fears.

Again, you have a choice to succumb to the fear and anxiety that the cowardly Patriot’s Day bombers wanted to instill or go eyeball to eyeball and stare down terror.

Here are two examples of how we reacted to the Patriot’s Day bomber’s attempt to instill fear in us; one at a Boston Bruins game, and the other at a Boston Red Sox game.

Boston Bruins post-Marathon Anthem and video 4/17/13

Boston Strong Boston Bruins Honor Boston Bombing  Victims

David Ortiz rallies the Boston crowd after Boston Marathon Tragedy

Boston Strong is who we are!

MARTINA MCBRIDE (BEST PERFORMANCE EVER) God bless America

VIDEO In God We Trust 

April 19, 2015 by Jack Hibbs

Isaiah’s calling as a prophet was primarily to the nation of Judah and to the city of Jerusalem, He urged the people to repent from their sins and to return to God. He also foretold the coming of the Messiah and the salvation of the Lord and the End of days events…

You Cannot Be Neutral in This War

July 17, 2022 by Adrian Rogers

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Our sophisticated age thinks of “the devil” as a laughable character, a medieval superstition, some guy with red long-underwear and a pitchfork. But Satan is very real. It has always been his purpose to pull the veil of darkness over his kingdom. But he will only disguise himself for so long before he removes the veil and says, “Bow down and worship me.”

KNOW YOUR ENEMY: SATAN

How is your enemy described in Scripture?

Satan is a fact. If you do not believe the devil exists, you are in a precarious position.

Satan is methodical. The Greek word for “wiles” (See Ephesians 6:11.) is methodia, from which we get “methodical.” Here are some other things you should know about your enemy:

  • He is strategic. He lets you think you’re getting away with sin. He may even seem to be helping you. But the dynamite is in place, and Satan is working to sabotage you. (See Matthew 24:24.)
  • He is spiritual. (See Ephesians 6:12.) There is spiritual goodness and spiritual wickedness. (See 1 John 4:1.) Yes, there is something to séances, necromancy, horoscopes, and mysticism—you must understand that! It is spiritual wickedness.
  • He is strong. You are puny if you come against Satan in your own strength—throwing snowballs at the Rock of Gibraltar.
  • He is sinister. There is nothing Satan will not do to destroy your life. He knows that he has but a little while left, and he is fighting like a cornered animal. (See Revelation 12:12.)

KNOW YOUR ENEMY’S POSITION: SATAN IS DEFEATED!

The Apostle Paul says, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10) because our God has already defeated Satan. Facing the cross, Jesus said, “Now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31b). Satan is strong, but God is almighty. (See 1 John 4:4.)

If Satan is defeated, why do we need to be warned? Because, though Satan’s back was broken at Calvary, God still allows him to have power on Earth. It is limited power—which Christians overcome in Christ—but God’s plan is to make us overcomers and give greater glory to Himself.

KNOW YOU WEAPONS: WEAR THE ARMOR OF GOD

If you don’t prepare for battle, you will lose. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

When Paul wrote Ephesians, he was chained to a Roman soldier. He looked that soldier up and down, saying, “I can get a lesson out of that.” (Read Ephesians 6:14-18.) Here is what’s available in your armor.

1. The belt of truth

A soldier had a leather belt cinched up to hold his center of strength. On that belt, he hung his weapons.

Your belt is integrity. You are to believe, tell, live, and preach the truth. Satan will come against you with lies. (See John 8:44.) Jesus is the truth. (See John 14:618:37.)

If you do not have integrity—in big and small things—you will lose the battle. Truth holds everything together.

2. The breastplate of righteousness

A warrior’s breastplate covered his vital organs. Without it, of course, he was vulnerable to any sword or arrow.

Righteousness is purity. There is to be no unconfessed, unrepented sin in your life. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Satan wants to get you to say, “Oh, it’s no big sin…” It is a crack in the armor.

Satan fears a holy Christian.

3. The shoes of peace

A Roman soldier needed shoes with hobnails, much like cleats, for good footing.

Paul tells us to stand, “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Paul means peace with God, and with one another.

Satan attacks your tranquility with doubts and discouragement. If you do not have peace, it is not because of circumstances. Peace is the power to meet problems. (See Psalm 119:165.)

Jesus made peace with the blood of His cross, and if you don’t have this peace, you will slip in battle.

4. The shield of faith

In that day, they dipped arrows in burning oil and then shot them, so a soldier had a shield.

Paul says you are to be, “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). Faith is certainty. Satan is always trying to place subtle doubts in your heart—little flaming darts, but a small fire starts a big one.

Wherever you go, remember the Word of God. Carry your doubts to Jesus. 

5. The helmet of salvation

Obviously, if a warrior’s head is wounded, nothing else works.

When a person is saved, for the first time, he has his right mind. “Salvation” means going to Heaven, but more than that, the helmet of salvation means a mind under the control of Almighty God.

JOIN THE BATTLE

It is not enough to put on the armor. We’ve got to get in the fight. Three things guarantee victory:

1. Placement

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6:13,14a). Withstand, stand, stand! We stand in the victory that Jesus won at Calvary. (See Revelation 12:11.)

2. Power

It is good to have a helmet, breastplate, and shield. But to fight, God has given you “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17b; emphasis added).

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12a; also read Matthew 4:1-11.)

3. Provisions

Dress in your armor, take your stand on the finished work of Calvary, pick up the Word of God, then look to Heaven for your supply—“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

The Spirit of God directs your prayer because the Spirit understands what Satan is up to. You don’t.

UNITE WITH YOUR ALLIES

Paul knew he did not fight alone. We need to pray for one another, because we fight alongside one another. (See Ephesians 6:18.) Divine energy comes when Christians lock arms, join forces, and fight together.

The Church is a battle station, where you reinforce yourself and get spiritual intuition, power, and encouragement to go out into the fight.

Choose sides carefully—because if you don’t follow Jesus, you are on the losing side. Examine your heart and make sure you have all the armor of God on.

Don’t try to be neutral. You can’t. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30).

Last, rejoice in the victory, and live victoriously every day.

https://www.lwf.org/articles/you-cannot-be-neutral-in-this-war

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